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State plans new Route 30A expansion

Route 30A in Johnstown from Briggs Street (Route 29) looking south toward Prindle Avenue is seen Thursday. The state Department of Transportation is gearing up for an improvement project in the corridor in 2020. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The state is planning a $3 million Route 30A project during 2020-21 to create roughly five lanes from Route 29, south to near Prindle Avenue, similar to a project just north of that area that was concluded in October.

Details of what the state Department of Transportation is calling a “corridor improvement project” were imparted to the public during an informational session Thursday night at City Hall. The 0.3-mile corridor that will be improved was created in 1953.

DOT representatives providing the presentation were Project Designer Dennis Vabishchevich, Project Manager Jonathan Tibbitts, Project Team Leader Michael Muha and Regional Design Engineer Brian Hoffmann.

Prior to a formal presentation, DOT staff gave an informal briefing for the public, showing off diagrams and the impacted area.

“We are continuing to monitor the Route 30A corridor,” Tibbitts told residents. “We’re doing our best to make incremental improvements with the funding we have.”

State Department of Transportation engineer Jonathan Tibbitts, center, shows local residents a map of a Route 30A corridor improvement project Thursday night at Johnstown City Hall. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

DOT in October concluded a similar project between Townsend Avenue and Briggs Street, some of which created five lanes on the Arterial Highway instead of three. This new project will be similar, with the targeted area being south of that area — the Prindle Avenue area north to Briggs Street (Route 29).

“We’re basically doing the same scope in this corridor,” Tibbitts said.

The $2.9 million project is scheduled for August 2020, bidding in October 2020, with actual construction starting in the fall of that year. The project is anticipated to be substantially completed by fall 2021. The project will include addition of a northbound and southbound through travel lane along with the reestablishment of a right turn lane at the Briggs Street intersection with improvements to drainage, signing and new highway lighting.

Vabishchevich gave the formal presentation, noting the project was developed in response to “congested traffic conditions” in the corridor. He said the last time DOT did anything with the corridor was 2012, when that stretch of highway was milled and resurfaced.

The segment is 45 feet wide with two-foot shoulders, Vabishchevich said.

State Department of Transportation Project Designer Dennis Vabishchevich gives a presentation on a planned Route 30A corridor improvement project Thursday night at Johnstown City Hall. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

He said 18,000 vehicles travel north and south from Prindle Avenue to Briggs Street daily, about 70 percent of which are heavy-duty trucks. He said the goal is to especially improve the traffic situation at Routes 30A and 29.

“Our first goal is to reduce traffic delays at the intersection,” Vabishchevich said.

Among the stated “project objectives” by DOT are reduce vehicle conflicts and accident rates, improve operational conditions; improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, access and mobility; provide Americans with Disability Act-compliant facilities, and support economic activity in the area.

Proposed work includes additional travel lane in both northbound and southbound directions within the commercial corridor, new sidewalks from existing facilities north to Briggs Street and new curbing, closed drainage, lighting, highway signage along the corridor. Commercial entities bordering along the corridor include Brown’s Ford, Walgreens, Stewart’s, Wendy’s, KFC, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, and Microtel.

“We have to do some work at the Briggs Street intersection,” Vabishchevich said. “We will have a temporary property easement near the Stewart’s.”

Tibbitts said bids should arrive fast less than a year from now.

“Typically, our awards come pretty quick,” he said.

An unidentified man whose house borders one of the intersections along the corridor told the DOT officials he needed more information.

“I might be putting the house on the market,” he said.

The public also commented that DOT may be moving traffic bottlenecks further south with the project.

Second Ward Councilwoman Kathi Iannotti, who attended, told the DOT representatives that the state did a good job on the first Route 30A project.

“It was really smooth,” she said.

Tibbitts said DOT applied for and was able to receive limited federal funding for this new project.

“This one was within our funding,” he said.

Hoffmann stated: “We’re always on the lookout for those [funding] opportunities.”

The DOT officials said the project won’t quite touch Prindle Avenue, but conceded that DOT continues to look at Route 30A as it heads south from the city of Johnstown.

Officials said the 2020-21 project will be done during weekdays and there may be single lanes, but if it has to be done on weekends, it won’t impede traffic.

For more information regarding this project or to submit written comments, contact: Brian Hoffmann, DOT 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 manich@leaderherald.com.

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