Johnstown Rail Trail work proposed

JOHNSTOWN – A proposed Fulton County Rail Trail safety improvement project in the city is estimated to cost about $350,000 and could begin in 2015 with alterations to two high-profile crossings, officials said.

Representatives of Albany engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen Inc. briefed city officials during a public informational meeting on the trail work Tuesday night at City Hall.

The Common Council in July approved a $63,165 contract with Greenman-Pedersen to design safety changes to the sections of the existing trail within the city.

The city was required to hold the public meeting per Chapter 8 of the Procedures for Locally Administered Federal-Aid Projects Manual, and the Federal Highway Administration’s National Environmental Policy Act.

About 25 people attended the session, in which engineers Chris Cornwell and Ed Snyder outlined proposed improvements to 3.4 miles of the Rail Trail that lie in the city.

Cornwell said the proposed project will begin with changes to the trail crossings at North Market and North Perry streets, so the distance across the streets is reduced for trail travelers.

“They’re very skewed intersections,” he said. “We want to reduce crossing time.”

Cornwell said the entire project – estimated to cost about $350,000 – would also involve possibly developing trail head parking at three locations that include sites at Union Avenue and West Montgomery Street. Other work would include spot improvements to paved surfaces, and drainage system work along the trail. Signage and striping along the trail would also be improved.

Snyder said the city has about $180,000 in funding available for the work. With $63,165 expended for the design contract, he said that leaves the city about $116,000 for actual construction to start the proposed project.

It was noted the city has about eight crossings for the trail, but by starting with the crossings at North Market and North Perry streets, the city will be satisfy federal safety standards.

“There’s existing safety conditions that really need to be addressed,” Snyder said.

He said the designed speed on the trail is about 20 mph, which is for bicycles; with a total trail width of 10 feet, and shoulder width of 2 feet.

Snyder said the North Market Street trail crossing is about 191 feet and it takes a pedestrian about 50 seconds to cross in the road, which is a “great hazard” currently. He said the trail can be altered at a different angle to cut that distance to 30 feet. He said the existing 181-foot North Perry Street crossing can also be redone so pedestrians cross at a 90-degree angle and the distance can be cut to 35 feet – a “much safer crossing.”

The engineers said the initial four-month part of the improvement project involving the two intersections could start with construction in summer 2015, and be completed by fall 2015.

If there is any money left, he said the city can look at other improvements, and other work can be done by the city Department of Public Works.

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