Highway study moving forward

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County legislators on Monday approved a nearly $500,000 agreement with a Saratoga County firm to determine the feasibility of building a highway from Fultonville to an area near the Johnstown Industrial Park.

Fulton County wants to study the project, which would involve a state Thruway “connector” highway through Montgomery County, even though that county wants no involvement at this time. The possible 3.5-mile highway for trucks and other vehicles coming off the Thruway could bypass the villages of Fultonville and Fonda on their way north to Johnstown.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee on Monday authorized the agreement with M.J. Engineering and Land Surveying of Clifton Park. The full county board may decide on the agreement at a meeting Feb. 10.

Fulton County officials say the highway could spur economic development.

County Planning Director James Mraz provided background about the study to the committee Monday.

He said Fulton County in 2013 received a $400,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program to pay the cost of hiring an engineer to evaluate the feasibility and cost of constructing a new road. He said the grant specified the road would connect Exit 28 on the Thruway in Fultonville with Route 30A near the Johnstown Industrial Park.

Mraz said the county’s 2014 capital budget contains a $100,000 appropriation to serve as the local share of the grant.

The Board of Supervisors in August authorized an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to secure the grant.

Mraz said that because federal dollars are involved, the county couldn’t use its standard process of requesting cost proposals. He said the county had to request “expressions of interest.” The county received nine of them in September.

He said three firms were interviewed in October and the county chose to negotiate a scope of work and fee proposal with M.J. Engineering and Land Surveying.

The county sent a draft proposal to DOT, which offered comments and acceptance of the fee proposal of $492,500.

Mraz said part of the project will involve a close check of M.J. Engineering and Land Surveying’s work after the study is completed.

“The county is going to have to hire an independent auditor,” he said.

The cost of the auditor will be covered by the federal grant, he said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.