Here's a chance to see options for reshaping Washington Ave

Washington Ave corridor study meeting 2018-March annotated map

A crowd-annotated map at the March meeting.

The project looking at a possibly safer, friendlier, better version of upper Washington Ave in Albany has a public meeting lined up for November 8 at UAlbany to show off a handful of options for the road. Blurbage:

Please join us for the second public meeting about the Washington Ave/Patroon Creek Corridor Study. This meeting will present three roadway design options, focusing on traffic operations and tradeoffs. There will also be an an opportunity to provide your input on these alternatives for this important corridor. We hope to see you there!

You might remember there was a public meeting this past March to provide an overview of the current state of the road and get input about how people might like to see it changed. Complaints expressed then ranged from concerns about speeding to the design being unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists to a confusing layout of connections.

Notable from that meeting was the consultants explaining that the road's current capacity is much greater than its actual use. They reported that the highest-volume segment gets 19,500 vehicles per day. That's a fair number of vehicles, but it's still below the threshold recommended by the feds for considering a road diet treatment similar to what was done on Madison Ave.

This segment of Washington Ave has been getting a lot of attention in recent years because of the ongoing development along the corridor, including the addition of private student housing and the resulting increase in pedestrians. (Another large private dorm just opened this fall.) As a first step in addressing some of these concerns, the city of Albany lowered the speed limit on the stretch from 45 to 30 mph in 2016.

This next meeting is Thursday, November 8 in University Hall on the uptown UAlbany campus. There's an open house at 4:30 pm, presentation at 5 pm, Q&A at 5:30 pm, and feedback at 5:45 pm.


It is about having the cake and eating it too. Looking a bit beyond existing situation:
Historical data for the same stretch shows 26k traffic in 2005 - and that was a bad drive. Difference? State moved operations from Harriman campus. With development proposed at the location, cutting throughput of Washington avenue under assumption that highway is the prime way of accessing the site - and discussing demolition of campus ring seems... strange. It is really wise for developers to foresee that, don't you think?

Oh, and yet another thing.
peak hourly traffic at the location is 1174 vehicle per hour (vph)
FHWA recommendations:
Consider cautiously between 750 – 875 vphpd during the peak hour.
Feasibility less likely above 875 vphpd during the peak hour

Oh, Albany, you really need to look which branch you try to cut - you may be sitting on one...

UAlbany or UGuilderland? For the longest while, the former’s master plans have aimed to engage and serve the city better. It’s good to see that UAlbany is a part of this effort build a stronger connection. Their campus, along with the state office campus, feel like suburban teleports totally disconnected from the city of Albany. While this project won’t solve everything, it’s a step in the right direction because there should be safer and more enjoyable ways for adjacent neighborhoods to access this important part of town than via motor vehicles. Biking up this stretch of Washington Ave. is not for the faint of heart! I think Quebec City’s University of Laval with its traditional suburban campus and its close proximity to suburban shopping malls and large employers offers a more realistic model for Albany to look into. The residential avenues/boulevards going up to the Laval campus have bike lanes with reflective lane markers and where the streets start to expand into high traffic areas you have wide pedestrian/bike trails like Hackett Boulevard off to the side of the road.

Thanks for sharing this.

I think reducing the speed limit was a great first step. In my own experience taking the bus to the State Campus, I think the city can do a few things to enhance the flow of buses that get bogged down in traffic during peak hours and are often discounted as just one vehicle (but during peak hours, the 12 or 114 are easily filled with 50+ folks).

A dedicated bus lane, at least operational durings during peak hours, would help reduce the bunching of buses that occurs during heavy traffic and speed up the flow of traffic (not only for buses, but also cars; in those instances I happen to drive, I find it vexing when cars bob and weave through traffic, gunking everything up to avoid stopped buses or turning cars along this corridor).

Prioritized signaling, that reads when a bus is approaching an intersection would be another wonderful change along this corridor, specifically, the intersection at Washington Ave and Collins Circle at SUNY Albany. During peak traffic at this intersection, you constantly have three or four bus jammed with 50+ folks (so 150-200 people easily) stalled for several minutes to accommodate, maybe, 50 or 60 cars traveling along Washington Ave. Again, the current situation is looking simply a number of vehicles and not how many occupants are in them, prioritizing single occupant cars over jammed buses.

Rich, Honestly speaking, it is a good idea until you do the math. You want to put 1000 people per hour (capacity of 1 lane) into disadvantage to help 500 people- that is 50 people in each of 10 buses per hour (7.5 #12 and 3 #114).
But after all what city need is more breathing room in terms of moving around, something that will not happen any time soon...

On a side note
If the purple line was prioritized, it may well help to diffuse the traffic levels by increasing the number of people using an express-type service to the State office campus and the University in lieu of their personal cars. While #10 or #12 are efficient enough, it can be painfully slow as the stops are so frequent.

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