THE CHALLENGE Delaware Avenue between Elsmere Avenue and the City of Albany is a heavily traveled state road through the heart of Elsmere. Unfortunately, it has several serious problems.
Unusually high number of car accidents There were 213 crashes between 2011 and 2015 on this section of Delaware Avenue, especially between Elsmere Avenue and the Delaware Plaza, and particularly involving cars making left turns. This is above the statewide average for roads of this size with this many cars.
Dangerous for pedestrians This challenge was highlighted by a crossing guard twice being hit by cars near the Elsmere Elementary School. Further safe pedestrian crossing locations are non-existent, with the only crosswalks located ½ mile apart.
Undesirable for new businesses When new businesses contact our Economic Development Coordinator about moving to Delaware Avenue, they consistently reject space in this area, preferring instead to be in the “walkable” parts of town.
THE SOLUTION The Delaware Avenue Complete Streets Project is designed to address these problems by building on lessons learned by state DOTs across the country with a modern design to make Elsmere’s Main Street safer for cars, safer for people, and better for businesses.
In October, 2016, the Town Board heard a presentation about redesigning Elsmere’s Main Street using national complete streets standards. In 2017, the Town began the big-picture planning process which included:
2 well-attended public forums,
a special meeting for business owners,
2 mailings each to 800 nearby residences and businesses,
10 articles in the Spotlight and Times Union (plus an 11th in January, 2018),
5 notes in the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce E-newsletter,
4 notes in the Town E-newsletter,
a month-long display in the Bethlehem Library, and
articles in the spring and fall editions of Bethlehem Town News (which is mailed to 16,000 households).
WHAT’S NEXT In December, 2017, the Town Board considered the findings of the study and input from residents and businesses, and voted to move forward with the complete streets project. In 2019, the Town was awarded a federal grant for $2.91 million to complete design work and to cover a portion of the construction costs. The State DOT has also committed $1.56 million for paving. The Town will only have to cover 20% ($728,000) of the $5.2 million total cost for the 1.3 mile long project.
On November 2, 2021, Bethlehem voters will decide whether or not the Town should take the financial steps needed to accept the $2.9 million state grant. The following Proposition No. 6 will be on the ballot.
PROPOSITION No. 6
Shall the bond resolution adopted by the Town Board, Town of Bethlehem on July 28, 2021, authorizing the Town of Bethlehem to (a) undertake the Delaware Avenue Complete Streets and Road Diet Project, at a maximum estimated cost not to exceed $5,200,000, and (b) finance such Project by the issuance of bonds and/or notes of the Town in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $5,200,000, with such amount anticipated to be partially offset by the receipt of federal and state grants, and other sources of funds, currently estimated to equal approximately $4,472,000, be approved?
___ YES ___ NO
A yes vote would accept the $2.9 million grant and allow community discussions, additional traffic studies, detailed engineering plans, and extensive sidewalk and crosswalk improvements to move forward in conjunction with planned repaving of the road and modernizing underlying water and sewer pipes.
A no vote would reject the $2.9 million grant. There would still be major construction directed to upgrading the underground pipes and repaving the road, but there would be no safety improvements to the road design, sidewalks, or crosswalks.
Major construction on the road, with or without the Complete Streets safety improvements, is anticipated to begin in 2024.