City lead agency for trail work

JOHNSTOWN – The city Planning Board this week appointed the city as lead agency for an upcoming Rail Trail safety improvement project in Johnstown.

Representatives of Albany engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen Inc. said in January that an initial phase of the proposed rail trail safety improvement project in the city could be done in 2015. It would involve alterations to two high-profile crossings.

The initial phase of the project will begin with changes to the trail crossings at North Market and North Perry streets to reduce the distance across the streets for trail travelers.

The city has about $180,000 in funding available for the work. With $63,165 spent on the design contract, that leaves the city about $116,000 for actual construction of the first phase.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter, also a planning board member, told the board March 3 at City Hall that the state Department of Transportation must approve the Greenman-Pedersen Inc. report for the city to be able to use federal grant money. She said the report comprehensively addresses safety and maintenance issues related to the rail trail improvement project.

She said the planning action makes the city the lead agency in the work. Cotter said no environmental issues have come up.

“Thank you for your efforts on that,” board Chairman Peter K. Smith told Cotter.

Greenman-Pedersen engineers said trail crossings at North Market and North Perry streets are skewed, and the planned work will reduce crossing times. The North Market Street trail crossing is about 191 feet long, which takes a pedestrian about 50 seconds to cross. The trail can be altered at a different angle to cut that distance to 30 feet. 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.

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.

The project may also involve developing trail head parking at three locations that include sites at Union Avenue and West Montgomery Street. Other work may include spot improvements to paved surfaces, and drainage system work along the trail. Signage and striping along the trail would also be improved.

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