By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
As construction crews begin painting in double solid yellow lines downtown, residents can expect the Traffic Reconfiguration and Signal Improvement project to be completed by Aug. 1.
"They have about 90 percent of all the final paving done," Jim Piccola, regional public information officer of the Department of Transportation, said. "They were striping some areas that aren't completed on Route 30, which is Church Street, all the way up to Route 5."
Piccola said crews are also finishing the striping on Route 5 east.
The traffic signal portion of the project is also nearing completion. Seven traffic signals within the city limits and three above Route 30 are now undergoing final inspections and will be "looped" within the next few weeks.
"What we have in the pavement is what we call loops," Piccola said. "They're loop detectors. Basically, when traffic pulls up on them, they sense that and they switch the traffic. Right now, they're all on time mechanisms."
Work should also be finished up on curbs and sidewalks "real quick," according to Piccola.
"[The head engineer] told me they hope to have everything up and running possibly by the first week in July," Piccola said, adding that work should be completed by Aug. 1 at the latest. The completion date was originally Nov. 30, 2012, but technical issues derailed their anticipated finale.
Piccola said once all the road work is done, residents should see a drastic change in the flow of traffic.
"The city of Amsterdam has a lot of one-way streets," Piccola said. "What we've tried to do is change a couple of the streets to two-way. We hope to give the city some more mobility downtown and make it easier to get around downtown."
The project, which Mayor Ann Thane said was first proposed in 2004, as a part of the city's comprehensive plan, came straight from requests by city residents.
"The concept started in 2002-2003 when the constituents expressed a desire to see the traffic patterns change because everything was going one-way," Thane said. "When they knocked the center of the city down and put that mall up ... it stopped traffic from going downtown and all of these areas died. You need the lifeblood of traffic to have commerce."
Thane said it is difficult for both city residents and outside visitors to find their way around.
"People get lost coming to City Hall," Thane said. "They get lost going to Riverfront Center. They can't find Riverlink Park. It's really just a mess."
The ultimate goal, according to Thane, is to retain more residents and get them to come back to the city.
"I've lived her for 30 years," Thane said. "I watched the city just decline for years and years and years ... I want to see the community revitalized. Now my children are in their late teens, early twenties and I want them to have a reason to come back here after school."
It all goes back to the city's motto: "Small city, Big heart," according to Thane.
"[Amsterdam] is very small," Thane said. "Everybody knows everybody's business. Everybody knows who your grandmother was and where she used to live and who lives there now. What team your kids are on and who their teacher is and she's married to so-and-so's brother. People move away and they get a taste of the world and then they think, where do I want to come and live? And they want that close sense of community for their family."
Piccola said he appreciates residents' patience.
"We look forward to completing this project very soon," Piccola said. "It definitely will be much safer and the mobility and flow through the city will be much nicer."
Road work will continue from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and traffic delays should be expected.