County to pay for highway study

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government will pay the full local cost of a design study for a new highway from Fonda to Johnstown.

County legislators decided Monday to pay the money after other local municipalities refused to contribute.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to increase the county’s local share for the study from $50,000 to $100,000. The federal government will provide an additional $400,000.

The $100,000 will come from the county’s capital reserve fund, which consists of national tobacco settlement money.

“Most of our board members think it’s important, regionally,” county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Tuesday of the study. “It’s a big commitment, but they did make that commitment.”

If the highway is built, trucks coming off the state Thruway could bypass the villages of Fonda and Fultonville by using the new “connector” highway. It could run from near state Thruway Exit 28, northward 3.5 miles through the town of Johnstown and connect to Route 30A near the Johnstown Industrial Park.

The federal government requires a $100,000 local match for the cost of the study.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors in December 2011 filed a joint application with Montgomery County to the federal government for funding for the study. The federal funding for the “bypass connector” study will be among $363 million in grants paying for a variety of highway improvements in all 50 states. Area congressmen worked behind the scenes on the federal level to secure the grant.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors in September authorized the $400,000 grant agreement, but when it came to paying the local share, Montgomery County officials balked.

“The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has not responded to requests to contribute its local share required to commence said project,” Monday’s Fulton County resolution stated. “The committees on Buildings and Grounds-Highway and Finance recommended that Fulton County contribute the entire $100,000 local share to receive the federal grant for the Fonda Bypass Connector Feasibility Project Study in the best interest of residents in the region.”

Fulton County previously committed $50,000 from capital reserves to pay for its share of the study.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors General Services Committee voted Oct. 16 not to contribute to the study, and the funding issue died there for that county.

After that rejection, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee voted in October to send letters to area municipalities asking if they would be willing to contribute to the study.

“We reached out over the last part of last year and the beginning of this year,” Stead said.

Montgomery County’s rejection for funding to make up the local share was followed by other municipal rejections. In December, town of Mohawk officials said their town wouldn’t fund the project and the Johnstown Town Board formally voted 4-1 against helping to pay for the study.

Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Director Kenneth Rose previously said Montgomery County officials had concerns about paying for the study. He said it was difficult for his county to come up with the $50,000 share. He also said trucks coming off the Thruway could bypass the villages of Fonda and Fultonville by traveling on the “connector” highway, and the county could lose revenue from places such as truckstops.

Mraz previously said a new highway may achieve these four major objectives: reroute heavy, commercial truck traffic around the villages of Fultonville and Fonda; significantly reduce truck traffic, air pollution, noise, vibration and congestion in the villages; improve access to the proposed Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center in Perth; and provide a direct transportation link between I-90 to I-87 and the GlobalFoundries plant at the Luther Forest Technology Park in Saratoga County.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at