Rail trail project on track in city

JOHNSTOWN – The city’s proposed Rail Trail safety improvement project, involving proposed changes to crossing areas, is being worked on by an engineering firm.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said Monday that Albany engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen Inc. continues to develop plans for the initial phase of the project. Officials said in March that initial phase – involving alterations to two of the city’s high-profile Rail Trail crossings – could be done in 2015. Construction would start next summer, with work completed by fall 2015.

“They’re still working on the design,” Cotter said of Greenman-Pedersen.

She said some of the work is also in the hands of the state Department of Transportation for its perusal and eventual approval.

“We don’t expect to get that back for a while,” Cotter said.

Officials in March said the city had about $180,000 in federal grant 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. DOT must approve the Greenman-Pedersen Inc. report for the city to be able to use federal grant money. The report addresses safety and maintenance issues related to the rail trail improvement project.

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. Greenman-Pedersen engineers said trail crossings at North Market and North Perry streets are skewed, and the planned work will reduce crossing times.

Engineers said 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, engineers said.

The project may also eventually 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 may also be improved.

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