SARANAC LAKE - The state has awarded the village $761,600 in federal funds to replace the sidewalks along Lake Flower Avenue.
The project is one of 63 bicycle, pedestrian and multi-use path initiatives that will share a total of $67 million in funding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Cuomo said the projects will boost tourism and economic development opportunities across the state. They include the addition of accessible sidewalks, improved pedestrian access to public transportation services, construction of new bicycle and pedestrian facilities and the preservation and conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for trail use.
Saranac Lake Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said the village's money will be used as part of a series of upgrades planned for Lake Flower Avenue this year. He noted that the sidewalk along the road, which is part of state Route 86, is the only pedestrian connection from that business district to the rest of the village. It's cracked and broken, part of it has been blacktopped over, and rain pools up on it as well as the adjoining traffic lane. At the peak of Saturday's rainstorm, the water there was more than 6 inches deep.
"It hasn't been maintained very well, and it's actually quite old," Evans said of the sidewalk. "There are significant drainage problems on Lake Flower Avenue that made the sidewalk that much more uncomfortable and unsafe to walk on. Between the reconstruction of the sidewalk and the drainage and stormwater infrastructure that the village is going to be putting in as soon as we can in the spring, it should really improve the comfort and the safety for pedestrians in the area."
The sidewalk work is expected to take place this spring. It's part of a temporary fix to Lake Flower Avenue that village and state Department of Transportation officials negotiated while a major overhaul of the road remains on DOT's long-term calendar.
The $761,600 grant comes from the Federal Highway Administration and is administered by DOT. The funding covers 80 percent of the cost of each project. The rest must be made up in a local match. In November, the village board agreed to use up to $200,000 from its reserves to cover the local share.
The village's award is one of three handed out to the North Country this week. The city of Plattsburgh received $1.6 million for its Saranac River Trail project, and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will use $640,000 to extend the Black River Trail in Jefferson County.
The press release announcing the grants included a quote from Saranac Lake's Josh Wilson, executive director of the New York Bicycling Coalition, a statewide bicycling advocacy group. He commended Cuomo for doubling the amount of grant money awarded by DOT this year for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
"This federal funding is in high demand as more communities than ever are looking for ways to increase foot and bike traffic to downtown business districts and local tourism destinations, and to make roadways safer and more appealing to pedestrians and cyclists of all ages," Wilson said.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.