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Erie Boulevard work to resume in Schenectady

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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View of Erie Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon. Work on the road is expected to wrap up in June.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
View of Erie Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon. Work on the road is expected to wrap up in June.

A previous version of this story misidentified the gas station on Erie Boulevard. It is a Sunoco station.

SCHENECTADY — By the time summer arrives, Erie Boulevard officially should be done.

That’s right. After 21⁄2 years, the construction trucks will drive away, the electronic signs will be hauled to some other site and the traffic jams will fade into memory.

The new goal is to declare the project done on June 13, city Engineer Chris Wallin said. Originally, the project was to be completed last fall.

Of course, there will be one last week of headaches before the job is done.

In late May, workers will shut down parts of Erie Boulevard from State Street to Interstate 890, Wallin said.

Every day for a week, they will close one lane for top-coat paving. Wallin said that work should only take four days, but it’s weather-dependent, as have been so many other portions of the long project.

Work will begin in earnest Monday. There might be lane closures for equipment as workers remove the temporary asphalt, which is mainly on the sidewalks, and pour concrete for the sidewalks, Wallin said.

Workers will also remove old poles near State Street and mill and pave the side streets, including South Church Street and South Ferry Street.

When all of that is done in late May, they will repave the final block of Erie Boulevard, Wallin said. “It won’t be as major a traffic situation as before,” he said. “You’ll be able to drive in both directions.”

For the past two years, workers turned one side of Erie Boulevard into a narrow street while they worked on the other side. The lane shifts forced drivers to slow down and the traffic jams from squeezing so many cars into half a road left vehicles backed up for blocks during rush hour.

Businesses also suffered when they were mostly blocked off because their side of the road was under construction.

At Wolberg Lighting Design & Electrical Supply, some customers’ cars were hit by passing vehicles as they tried to pull out of the store’s parking lot during the lane closures.An employee’s car was totaled, too.

Many owners said they lost substantial business during the work. Workers were hurt as well. At the Sunoco gas station, clerks saw their hours cut as business plummeted. Other businesses also cut staff.

But the lane shifts sped up the process, allowing workers to finish one entire side of the road at a time.

The workers can’t create a temporary road this time because the median has been installed, Wallin said.

After the road is paved, workers will stripe it, install stamped asphalt in the parking areas and clean up the site. The contractors have set aside two full weeks just for cleanup, Wallin said.

Some trees in the median that didn’t survive the winter will also be replaced, he said.

Then it will be done.

The $14 million project rebuilt Erie Boulevard from the I-890 interchange to Union Street. The work included new infrastructure under the road, new lights, intersections that meet the boulevard at a better angle, a pedestrian-friendly median and sidewalks.

The funding came from the state and federal governments, with Schenectady contributing 5 percent of the total cost.

 
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