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$500K Exit 11A traffic study moves step closer

Report could lay groundwork for new Northway interchange

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
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— Saratoga County officials believe they have lined up the money to pay the local share of a $500,000 regional traffic study looking at the impact of high-tech growth.

The study would look at the changes caused by GlobalFoundries and other business activity around central Saratoga County and could lay the groundwork for seeking federal approval for a new Northway Exit 11A in the future.

The county Industrial Development Agency voted Monday to contribute $17,000 toward the study, bringing the total local pledges from several different sources to $250,000.

Those commitments will be used to apply for a matching $250,000 grant from National Grid’s strategic economic development grant program, bringing the study’s total funding to $500,000.

The idea for a large regional traffic study looking at the impact of high-tech development came out of meetings organized last year by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko’s office.

When GlobalFoundries proposed building a second computer chip plant at the Luther Forest Technology Campus — potentially bringing in thousands more employees — Malta town officials realized they hadn’t laid any of the necessary groundwork for federal funding of a future Northway exit. The second factory has zoning approvals, but GlobalFoundries hasn’t yet decided to build it.

The idea — which has been around conceptually for a decade — is that a new exit north of Round Lake could handle most GlobalFoundries traffic, taking pressure off local roads.

Other growth besides GlobalFoundries is contributing to traffic in the vicinity of exits 11 and 12, including the intermodal rail-truck freight yard in Halfmoon.

Charlton Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge said the study would look at impacts felt from Ballston Spa to Northway Exit 10 in Clifton Park and beyond.

To date, there have been $50,000 pledges made by the town of Stillwater, Saratoga County and GlobalFoundries. In addition, the town of Malta is being given $83,000 in credit for traffic study work it is already doing as part of a townwide master plan update.

The $17,000 from the IDA “is the final piece of the puzzle,” Grattidge said.

National Grid representatives have indicated the study qualifies for a grant, but have not made a final commitment.

Because National Grid’s grant rules require that a nonprofit organization actually file the grant application, the application will be filed by the Center for Economic Growth, an Albany-based regional economic development organization.

CEG President F. Michael Tucker said he won’t file the application with National Grid until he receives formal commitments for the local funding.

He said involvement in the study is an appropriate role for CEG, which has identified infrastructure as one of the critical issues facing the region as it seeks to attract more high-tech companies.

The Capital District Transportation Committee, which manages federal transportation funds for the region, would be involved in designing and overseeing the study.

“The whole Northway corridor will be impacted by the results of this study, not just Malta or Stillwater or even Saratoga County,” Tucker said. “Someone going from Warren County to the [Albany International] airport will be impacted if there’s back-ups in Malta because there’s no exit.”

Grattidge said the goal would be to have the study completed in 2015.

 
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