Improvements would be made along a 1.3 mi. stretch of Route 5S starting near the bridge over the Schoharie Creek and eastbound past the Dollar General and Hill & Markes distribution centers.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is refining plans for a $6.65 million corridor improvement project, targeted for construction in 2023, on a part of State Route 5S in the village of Florida.
The small community is located about 70 mi. northwest of New York City.
The transportation agency said May 8 that improvements would be made along a 1.3 mi. stretch of Route 5S starting near the bridge over the Schoharie Creek and eastbound past the Dollar General and Hill & Markes distribution centers.
"The primary focus initially is to keep traffic moving in an organized and safe manner," said Jonathan Tibbitts, a design team manager of NYSDOT. "The corridor itself over the years has been developed further and further and truck volume is increasing along with regular volume."
Construction is tentatively planned to begin next spring for completion by November 2023. Alternating lane closures are expected during road work.
Project to Give Route 5S Better Resilience
The Daily Gazette in Schenectady reported that the roadway upgrade will involve widening the travel lanes and shoulders of Route 5S in both directions. In addition, an eastbound climbing lane will be built to mitigate delays to regular traffic caught behind freight vehicles that normally lose speed while making their way uphill.
Improvements to drainage and road surfaces through the corridor also will be incorporated into the project to limit the need for NYSDOT to return in the future for more projects affecting traffic.
"Drainage down through there is antiquated," explained Tibbetts. "Although it's functioning, it's a good opportunity to build a little more resilient corridor. It's time to get some pavement improvement under way."
The expanded roadway and fresh pavement are designed to upgrade safety along the sloped and curved area of roadway where an estimated 3.38 crashes occur per one million vehicles traveling through the corridor, according to NYSDOT statistics. The figure is approximately 27 percent higher than the statewide average of 2.67 crashes for every one million vehicles on similar rural highways.
"That obviously catches our interest and makes us say, ‘What can we try to do to help minimize that,'" Tibbitts said to the Daily Gazette.
No fatalities have occurred along the stretch, but there have been a few serious crashes, Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery Smith told the Schenectady news source. Most incidents have been minor fender benders or nuisance issues involving vehicles going off the road or getting stuck during winter storms, especially trucks trying to navigate the hill.
"Whenever it snows and is slippery, that road [becomes] a major problem with tractor trailers going up and coming down," he explained. "I think any highway improvements there would be a welcome addition [for] all of us."
Upgrades Done to Handle Area's ‘Tremendous Growth'
Specific sections of land in the town of Florida must be acquired from 14 private properties to accommodate the road upgrades, the Daily Gazette reported.
Impacts to surrounding properties will vary when the infrastructure is widened to around 12 ft. on the eastbound side and 2 ft. on the westbound side. NYSDOT real estate officers are working with landowners to reach agreements on acquisition and compensation.
Eighty percent of the $6.65 million project will be paid by the federal government, along with 20 percent from the state.
The proposed improvements are essential to support the already "tremendous growth" and further development expected by county officials along Route 5S, according to Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort.
To have NYSDOT undertake the work without any expense to the county only adds to the project's attraction, he noted.
"It's a much-needed infrastructure project that aligns with the growth in the area," Ossenfort told the Daily Gazette. "It will certainly benefit not only businesses, but residents who are traveling up and down Route 5S each day."
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