Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Monday, 15 January 2024 09:55

The Van Dam Street Truck Fiasco and More False Promises

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

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In a letter dated January 2, 2024, the New York State Department of Transportation advised Saratoga Springs Mayor John Safford that the previous Council superseded its authority when it altered the weight limit for trucks on Van Dam Street. As the letter above documents, Van Dam Street is a designated “access highway” by DOT and, as such, is not subject to local control over its truck use.

This is yet another example of the previous Council’s obliviousness to the need for rigorous due diligence. In their rush to endear themselves to the homeowners on Van Dam Street and grab headlines, the Council did the neighborhood a disservice by spreading false hopes.

Even before this DOT letter, former Public Safety Commissioner Lew Benton knew enough to question the city’s authority in this matter and to contact NYSDOT, which confirmed his skepticism.

Bill McTygue and Mark Pingel Grab Headlines With More False Hopes

Planning Board members Bill McTygue and Mark Pingel issued a report in December suggesting an old proposal to construct a truck bypass route through the southern border of the State Park should be revisited.

The first reference I can find to such a proposal was in a report prepared for the New York State Department of Transportation in 1987. The study concluded that a southern bypass would “impact adjacent parklands…to a degree which will be difficult to successfully mitigate” and “…have significant impacts on recreational, historic, and natural resources.” In addition to requiring cutting through extensive wetlands in the Park, the study also concluded that while “various bypass roadway alternatives have been the subject of considerable discussion in the community and were examined closely in the study…they were found to be partial solutions at best…..None would divert sufficient traffic from Broadway…”

Over the years, other Councils have made similar forays to the state, but all such efforts have proved futile.

Such a bypass would be an enormous construction project involving huge sums of money, and the permits for major disturbances of wetlands would encounter fierce resistance from a variety of parties, assuming that the state was even interested. 

Readers, this is never going to happen.

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