JOHNSTOWN - The city will conduct an informational meeting Jan. 21 to inform the public about how the city plans to improve sections of the Rail Trail and make them safer.
The Common Council in July approved a $63,165 contract with Greenman-Pedersen Inc., an Albany engineering firm, to design changes to the sections of the Fulton County Rail Trail within the city. The firm was selected to complete design for rehabilitation of the existing trail.
Trail work has been done in various phases over the years and a phase done in 2006 included building a 3.6-mile stretch from the Gloversville-Johnstown line, south to Union Avenue Extension. The trail has received grant funding over the years through the state Department of Transportation.
The council voted Monday night at City Hall to advertise a public meeting to go over some of the planned design changes. The meeting will be conducted at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 in the second floor Common Council Chambers in City Hall.
Fulton County has led efforts to receive Rail Trail funding over the years. Funding is handed down from the federal government to the state. The county Board of Supervisors on June 10 allocated $150,000 to the city of Johnstown.
City Engineer Chandra Cotter said Wednesday the city is using grant money to refurbish and make the existing trail portions in the city safer.
"We're getting drawings done that will basically look at fixing existing portions of the trail that were washed out by stormwater," Cotter said.
She said the work the city wants to do also includes updating signage and making the Rail Trail crossings safer. She said the crossings need to be more perpendicular to the road, such as what needs to be done on North Perry Street.
The resolution passed Monday notes the city - in partnership with DOT - is developing design plans for what the city calls the trail's "phase III project." The focus of the design is to improve safety and accessibility for all trail users, as well as improve the existing trail's infrastructure for use by pedestrians and bicyclists, the resolution says.
Mayor Sarah Slingerland said that because the work involves grant funding, the city must strictly follow grant rules, such as conducting the public information meeting.
The city is required to hold a public meeting per Chapter 8 of the Procedures for Locally Administered Federal-Aid Projects Manual, and the Federal Highway Administration's National Environmental Policy Act.
Second Ward Councilman Chris Foss said the meeting is a good opportunity for the public to learn and provide trail input, rather than the city "doing whatever they want."
Cotter told the council she has walked the entire trail with the design consultants, but the council still must decide where best to spend the grant money.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.