CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The Town Board Monday gave authority to Town Supervisor Philip Barrett to execute a state contract award of $150,000 from the New York State Canal Corporation.

The state monies will fill a funding gap in a long-awaited project for a pedestrian bridge in the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.

The board approval was one of two actions taken during the meeting that will help the town move forward with projects focused on pedestrian traffic.

With the acceptance of the Canal Corporation grant, the town can now move forward on getting a 100-foot-long bridge built. The bridge will span the 1840 enlarged Erie Canal where a 19th-century farmer’s bridge once stood.  Farmers’ bridges allowed farmers and their cattle to reach pastures that had been isolated by the cutting of the canal.

The official name of the project is the Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve Gateway and Accessibility Improvements Project.

It is hoped that when completed the town-built bridge will be used by bicyclists and pedestrians in conjunction with another bridge, recently completed as an Eagle Scout project, which spans the original, and narrower, 1825 Erie Canal.

When used together, the two bridges will allow bicyclists, joggers, and walkers to cross the original Erie Canal from Riverview Road and then the enlarged canal. Once there they would be at a spot mid-way on the five-mile-long Erie Canal Community Connector Trail which follows the towpath of the enlarged canal between Clifton Park and Halfmoon.

Both bridge projects will be near the basin known as Clute’s Dry Dock. This early 19th-century dry dock allowed canal boats to be refurbished within yards of the waterway that opened America’s West. The town built a small vehicle parking area near the dry dock on Riverview Road several years ago.

With a $416,000 National Scenic Byway grant and an earlier $75,000 state Canal Corporation grant in hand, the town found itself with a gap of $150,000 to complete the project. The most recent Canal Corporation grant fills that gap. As of 2018, the total cost for the project was estimated to be $719,252.

The pedestrian bridges will allow anyone wishing to walk only part of the Erie Canal Connector Trail to park at Clute’s Dry Dock and easily get to a midpoint of the connector trail.

Clifton Park Town officials expect work on the town-build bridge to start next month and be completed in early October.

In the second action taken at Monday’s Town Board meeting, the board agreed that financial offers be made to three private landowners to help the town’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

This project impacts a total of eight intersections in town where pedestrian beacons with flashing lights be installed to allow pedestrians to cross heavily trafficked roadways.

With the approval of Monday’s resolution, financial offers will be made to officials with Atrium Properties, Windsor Development, and DCG Development for right of ways that will allow structural installation of the beacons. Two intersections are involved; one on Clifton Country Road at Clifton Park Center and the Village Plaza, and one at the intersection of Clifton Country Road and Clifton Park Center Road.

The six other intersections involved in the project do not require right of way acquisitions.

While discussing the two pedestrian projects at the meeting, town Planning Director John Scavo was asked to give the Town Board an update on the Sitterly Road improvement project.

In his review of the project, Scavo noted that utility companies National Grid and NYSEG have finished the work they were required to do before road widening could begin. Verizon, Time Warner, and a third power provider are to come on-site next and move their companies’ lines before road widening can begin.

Scavo said he expects the project to be essentially complete shortly before Thanksgiving.

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