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Western Gateway Bridge a hazard to walkers, cyclists

Friday, March 28, 2014
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Western Gateway Bridge a hazard to walkers, cyclists

Nothing says springtime in Schenectady like the opening of Jumpin’ Jack’s.

Many families will want to stroll from my Stockade neighborhood across the Western Gateway Bridge to Scotia and Jumpin’ Jack’s for ice cream and a hot dog. However, thanks to the Department of Transportation’s recent bridge rehab project, that stroll will be more hazardous than usual this year.

For the first spring in over 40 years, there is no fence or guardrail between the bridge sidewalks and roadway. The curb is the only protection for pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and those in baby strollers or wheelchairs, from stepping or falling into the consistently fast and busy traffic, or from a vehicle jumping or rolling over the curb.

Thanks to community advocacy, the east sidewalk will finally connect bike-pedestrian trails on the Scotia and Schenectady sides. The guardrails have come down, then, just when more and faster bicycles are expected to use the sidewalk, in both directions, along with all those on foot.

The situation is contrary to common sense and to standards set by expert bodies and government agencies. And no matter how cautious we may be crossing that bridge, we are at the mercy of the reckless behavior of others.

Because the bridge has a design speed of 47 mph, it is considered a high-speed bridge. Federal policy requires such bridges to have adequate barriers between pedestrians or bicyclists and the roadway. Many states have the same requirement. Nonetheless, DOT confirmed when the bridge opened in January that it would not put pedestrian barriers back up.

It should not take a tragedy for state DOT to correct its glaring mistake. I’ve asked Rep. Paul Tonko to encourage the federal DOT to press New York to make the bridge safe for non-motorized users. His staff would like to first see proof that many others care about this issue. I urge you to contact Rep. Tonko’s office to tell him you do care.

You can find contact information for Rep. Tonko, along with discussion and many photos of the bridge, at this web address: http://tinyurl.com/WGBsidewalks.

David Giacalone

Schenectady

Supermarket needed at Sheridan Plaza

It has been quite a few years since the Sheridan Plaza Price Chopper on Gerling Street closed.

As long as I can remember, there had always been a market there. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 45 years.

Many tenants and homeowners moved near Sheridan Plaza because of Trustco Bank, CVS Pharmacy, and of course, the market. Many of these people still live in Sheridan Village, Hampshire House, The Netherlands Village or other small apartments, as well as one- and two-family homes. Many of them do not own or drive a car. Sheridan Plaza is within walking distance for many of them.

It would be a great service for the community if some business or group opened a supermarket in Sheridan Plaza. If the space is too large for just a market, perhaps it could be divided — a market on one side and another business on the other.

As far as I know, Price Chopper made out very well, and I truly believe it would be the same for another market. I know I would go there very often, as well as my neighbors, friends and other residents.

As it stands, the property in Sheridan Plaza is in great disrepair, from the terrible parking lot to the neglected storefronts. I know that improvements have been made to other areas of the city. Why not here?

Barbara A. Saglimbeni

Schenectady

Reopen school dance studio door to civilians

As the Schenectady school budget comes up for discussion once again, I have to wonder if all departments of the district are as lacking as continuing education.

Enrolling has become a really tangled road. No longer does the brochure of current courses arrive through the mail, and the online site is no longer current.

For many years, I have enjoyed participating in tap dance class. When the dance studio was built with my taxpayer money and the help of a dedicated board member, we were able to use it if the students did not need it.

With the change of administration, this ended. We now walk past the empty dance studio to dance in the cafeteria. All dances are modified to accommodate an inappropriate floor and the [risk] of slipping and falling. We have to dance watching the floor for foreign objects such as gum and food. This, believe me, is a liability waiting to happen.

The room is part of a constant flow of traffic from one wing to another. The dance studio is 20 shuffle steps away, locked and empty. Someone is always “working on it,” but it has been numerous years now.

Penny DeFelippo

Schenectady

Albany Academy not in same league as S-G

A once-in-a-generation team of high school kids who grew up together from a small town vs. the best team a very wealthy school could buy.

Furthermore, the small-town kids had to win their sectional, as well as a state tournament (seven games), whereas the wealthy school just walked into the tournament as the only team in their division.

This is Scotia-Glenville vs. Albany Academy, and it just doesn’t seem right.

I’m all for seeing them play, but to allow Albany Academy into the tournament without any qualifications to get there was not in the spirit of a good tournament. Albany Academy won a Federation championship [last year] by winning two games — Scotia would have to win nine.

I believe the Federation should have some type of qualifying, such as the teams playing in their local sectionals, to get in. Otherwise eliminate this division.

Larry Sloman

Princetown

Albany Academy belongs to the Association of Independent Schools.

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