ALBANY — A stretch of Watervliet Shaker Road between the intersection of Route 155 and Sand Creek Road will get a nearly $6 million upgrade to improve traffic flow, but it will not include roundabouts.
Albany County Department of Public Works Commissioner Lis Ramundo, along with MJ Engineering and Land Surveying, unveiled the preferred design alternative for the reconstruction of the busy thoroughfare during a ZOOM meeting earlier in November.
The plan calls for new turning lanes, new traffic coordinated traffic signals at intersections, a widening of the road, a multi-use path and new sidewalks.
One of the design options first introduced in April included a roundabout at the intersection of New Karner Road, or Route 155 which turns into Vly Road heading north, and Watervliet Shaker Road. And a second round about at the intersection of Watervliet Shaker Road and Career Path, which turns into Vly Road heading south.
Instead, the project will include new pavement for the length of the corridor and all four intersections, a thru traffic/right hand turn from Vly Road to Watervliet Shaker at the intersection with Route 155 and a northbound, left turn only from Sand Creek Road to Watervliet Shaker and a westbound thru lane onto Watervliet Shaker Road at that same intersection.
The new traffic signals at the intersections of Route 155 and Career Path will be coordinated to help the flow of traffic. The intersections will have pedestrian crosswalks and push button controls for people trying to cross the road.
The multiuse path between New Karner and Sand Creek roads was moved from the north side to the south side of the roadway, as per public comments. Watervliet Shaker Road from Career Path to Sand Creek will widen, and the center lane will shift to the north to avoid impacts to the private property along the corridor. The road will keep the same general contour and not be “straightened,” a possibility discussed in April.
Also the lanes will be reduced from 12-foot to 11-foot and the shoulders will be reduced from six-foot to two-foot to avoid the need to acquire any property along the corridor.
There is one spot, at the intersection of Vly Road and Watervliet Shaker Road where the business Infinigy is located, the county will need to acquire “a sliver of land” in order to construct a sidewalk. Possibly, it will need to acquire some land on the southwest corner of the intersection of Sand Creek and Watervliet Shaker roads.
The utility poles along the corridor will be moved and a formal storm water collection system will be installed along with the road improvements.
A poll of those attending the ZOOM meeting in April were nearly split, with 49 preferring improvements to the signals and 51 percent saying they would like to see roundabouts. To install roundabouts would have bumped the projected cost to more than $6.2 million dollars. That is an estimate that came from the April meeting. The $5.8 cost of the work that is now planned was $4.8 million at that time. There were four proposals presented with the first being to continue routine maintenance and another would be new paving, an upgrade to signals and restriping of the roadway.
“There were a number of factors that went into the decision including traffic capacity and level of service as well as the costs and property acquisitions associated with each plan,” said Brian Cooper, the project manager from MJ Engineering.
Traffic was studied using the current flow compared to the projected flow in 2025 and 10 years later in 2035 based on development in the area including the new BOCES facility on Watervliet Shaker Road and redevelopment of the old facility on Career Path and a new subdivision on Denison Road, located about a mile north of the Vly Road and Route 155 intersection.
A handful of people watched the remote meeting and a few asked questions. One was how to stop traffic on the residential portion of Vly Road as a cut through from Watervliet Shaker to Central Avenue. In theory, the coordinated signals and additional turn lanes will make traversing the main thoroughfares more manageable and motorists will fell less of a need to find alternative routes.
One caller asked about speed bumps on that section of Vly Road but the project is limited in its scope to the Watervliet Shaker Road corridor and the four intersections.
There is the possibility of a yellow light being installed at the entrance of Memory Gardens Cemetery.
This is phase III of a master plan to upgrade transportation in that section of town. Phase I, on Albany Shaker Road from Meeting House Road to British American Boulevard, was completed in 2004 and Phase II, Watervliet Shaker Road from Sand Creek Road to Airline Drive, was completed in 2007.
A rough timeline for this project is to start moving utility poles and begin construction in 2022 with the work continuing into 2023. There will be times when construction will force traffic to alternate one-way through the work zone but motorists will have access to residents and businesses along the thoroughfare at all times.
Anyone with additional comments or questions can reach the Albany County Department of Public Works at [email protected]