Chatham says survey will guide bridge road changes

CHATHAM–The Town Board has approved spending $9,800 on a survey of the area leading up to the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham.

The new survey is a follow-up to aerial photos outlining ideas for a redesigned intersection leading to the bridge presented to the board last month. The images were created by the town’s engineering firm, Barton and Loguidice, after Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert asked the firm to come up with concepts that would make the entrance to the bridge off state Route 295 safer. Mr. Rickert said at the June meeting that before any formal plans to could be completed the firm would have to survey the land.

At the July 17 Town Board meeting the bridge was again on the agenda, though town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt stressed that the board has made no decision about possible changes to the intersection and that board members would need to look at the survey before any new designs would be created. “There is really no anything,” he said of plans for the bridge at this point. He said that though the state owns and maintains Route 295, the work to change the entrance to the bridge would be on town land. Although the survey will require town funds, Mr. DeGroodt said that the town was not charged for the initial concept images reviewed at the June meeting.

CSX Transportation, the company that owns the tracks beneath the bridge, paid to replace the bridge last year. The company made the bridge a single-lane wide with a pedestrian walkway. Several East Chatham and Old Chatham residents have attended meetings since work was finished last winter to complain about the limited visibility of vehicles approaching the bridge, especially from the incline that brings traffic off Route 295.

When residents attending the July 17 meeting asked whether the town had decided not to install traffic lights at the bridge entrances, Mr. DeGroodt said that traffic lights would be a “drop dead option.”

In addition to the bridge entrance, the survey will include the intersection of Frisbee and Tompkins streets where they intersect Route 295. Mr. DeGroodt said the town would not see the results of the survey for several months.

Board Member Henry Swartz urged members of the community to share their concerns about the bridge with board members. He suggested the residents at the meeting email a list of their issues to the board.

“We want to hear them all,” he said.

Maria Lull, the only other board member at last week’s meeting, said that there would a public hearing before any plan is adopted.

At the July meeting the board also dealt with the longstanding issue of court safety. Last December the board voted to make safety upgrades at the town court on the second floor of the Tracy Memorial Village Hall in the Village of Chatham. The decision came after the town judges asked for a more secure door with bulletproof glass at the entrance to the judges’ chambers and clerk’s office. Town Justice James Borgia-Foster gave the board the specifications for the safety door at the New Lebanon court saying a similar door would serve Chatham’s needs.

The board agreed to make the modification but the item it purchased for the safety upgrade turned out to be a $3,000 safety window, not a door. This month board members decided to look into purchasing the safety door, which is expected to cost about $5,200. Once they have the door, the board plans to declare the window the town had purchased surplus goods so they can sell it. If the board had opted instead to install the window, Barton and Loguidice estimated the installation would have cost $8,950. Buying a new door would turns out to be the less expensive option.

The board also heard from the county’s Chief Technology Officer Richard Juliano about switching board emails to Google accounts, which the county has already done. Mr. Juliano said that he would come back with a more in-depth presentation for the board if the board is interested in making the switch. Mr. DeGroodt said he would look into scheduling a workshop time to talk about the switch when more board members could attend.

The next regular board meeting will be Thursday, August 21 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall on Route 295.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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