Route 30A will be widened in $4.5 M project

A stretch of Route 30A in Johnstown looking north from Briggs Street, where the state will be doing a safety project in 2019, is seen Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Michae Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The state Department of Transportation is planning a $4.5 million project next year on a busy commercial stretch of Route 30A that will result in expanding the highway from three to five lanes.

DOT officials presenting the initiative at a public meeting Thursday night at City Hall said it is driven by concerns over accidents.

“It’s a safety improvement project,” said DOT regional design engineer Brian Hoffmann. “We’re really not widening the road, we’re repurposing the pavement. It’s something we are paying attention to.”

DOT project designer Charles Dodge told 21 interested citizens that the boundaries for the roughly 0.7-mile long project will be Route 30A, or Comire Ave, from approximately Briggs Street to Townsend Avenue. The project will start in the Briggs Street area. The corridor includes many city restaurants and businesses, mostly at the Johnstown Mall and the Johnstown Shopping Center.

“The major push for this project is accidents,” Dodge said.

He said DOT uses a statistic in which it measures motor vehicle accidents per million vehicle miles. He said the stretch of Route 30A where changes will take place averages 6.5 accidents per million vehicle miles. He said the state average for such a highway part is 4.18 accidents.

The project is also being done because of “congested traffic conditions” in the corridor, especially around Briggs Street.

“The bottleneck seems to be at the Briggs Street intersection,” Dodge said.

Currently, the Route 30A stretch in question has three lanes — north, south and a turning lane. Two more north-south lanes will be added.

Proposed objectives are to improve operational conditions, improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, access and mobility; and provide Americans with Disability Act-compliant facilities. New sidewalks from existing facilities will be added, north to Townsend Avenue.

In addition, proposed work includes: new curbing, closed drainage, lighting, highway signage; replacement of existing signal at the intersection with Townsend Avenue and addition of a signalized pedestrian crossing, and new signalized crossings at the mall and shopping center entrances.

The project is scheduled for a November 2018 bidding, with bids open in December, with construction beginning in spring 2019. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Dodge said Route 30A in Johnstown is in decent shape.

“The pavement isn’t bad out there,” he said.

He said 18,000 vehicles per day use Route 30A. He said there will be some easements needed, and properties impacted about the project have already been notified.

“These impacts are minor,” Dodge said.

Dodge said the speed limit of 35 mph is not expected to change.

Mayor Vern Jackson, who was in attendance, said he was “very happy” by the proposed changes because at least the workers will generate more income for Johnstown.

“I actually expect extra income,” Jackson said.

Police Chief David Gilbo asked if DOT plans any press information pertaining to people using more lanes of traffic, or whether that would be done locally.

“We do not plan to do any public outreach to educate folks,” Hoffmann said.

For further information, submission of written comments regarding this project, contact Brian Hoffmann, NYSDOT Regional Design Engineer, 207 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501, or call (315) 793-2429.

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

By Patricia Older

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