Highway study moving forward

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County will study the possible construction of a highway from Fultonville to the Johnstown Industrial Park without the help of Montgomery County.

The state, which will provide grant money for the study, recently agreed to allow Fulton County to pursue the study of the possible “connector” highway even though Montgomery County wants no involvement at this time.

Fulton County will spend $100,000 for the study. The state and federal government will provide $400,000 toward the $500,000 study.

“This is moving forward,” Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron told the Fulton County Capital Projects Committee on Tuesday.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said state transportation officials gave Fulton County the right to pursue the study.

Fulton County officials are studying construction of a highway from Thruway Exit 28 in Fultonville to Route 30A near the Johnstown Industrial Park.

County officials say the highway could spur economic development. 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.

“We’ve been given approval to go ahead with it as a one-county project,” Stead told the committee Tuesday.

Fulton County officials say they want to determine if building the highway is feasible. They said they don’t need Montgomery County’s permission at this time.

Montgomery County initially showed some interest in the study but later decided against getting involved.

Last year, Fulton County accepted a Transportation, Community and System Preservation grant from the Federal Highway Administration for the Thruway connector study as a project with Montgomery County. In accordance with the grant, 80 percent of the

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study’s cost would be funded by the federal government and the state Department of Transportation.

Fulton County sought $50,000 from Montgomery County to help pay for the study, but Montgomery County rejected the idea.

Fulton County then agreed to pay $100,000, and only needed Montgomery County supervisors to sign off on the study to move ahead. However, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors in August allowed a resolution for the study to die after no supervisor would sponsor it.

Fulton County officials then decided to see if DOT would allow the county to pursue the study on its own.

Waldron said Tuesday county officials already sent nine proposals to engineering firms interested in doing the study and are interviewing three of the companies.

He said it’s incumbent upon area legislators to cut taxes. He said strong economic-development initiatives may be the best way to accomplish that goal.

“I feel the county needs to do everything possible to bring industry back into the area,” Waldron said.

Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery questioned why Fulton County is pursuing the study if Montgomery County isn’t interested.

Stead said if another longstanding proposal to build a regional business park between the two counties comes to fruition, Montgomery County officials may “change their opinion” about the highway.

He cautioned the study could determine the highway can’t be done. He said the study also may recommend a different route.

“It’s a feasibility study,” Stead said. “It may come back totally differently.”

The exact cost of building the highway is unknown at this point, but officials have said it would cost many millions.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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