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Lake George – Warrensburg Bikeway Extension Concept Plan

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Lake George – Warrensburg
Bikeway Extension Concept Plan
Draft for Public Review — January 2019

INTRODUCTION
The Warren County Bikeway is one of the most important bicycle-
pedestrian facilities in the region. As a stand-alone facility, it connects the
City of Glens Falls to the Village of Lake George. Regionally, the Bikeway
is part of a larger network of off- and on-road trails, connecting to the
Feeder Canal Trail, the Betar Byway, and will soon provide access to New
York State’s Empire Trail. Locally, the Bikeway fulfills crucial transportation
and recreation functions and is well-loved by residents and tourists alike.
Currently, the Bikeway terminates in Battlefield Park, near the junction of
West Brook Road and Beach Road. The extension of the Bikeway north
through the Village and Town of Lake George has long been a priority for
both the local municipalities and A/GFTC itself. In addition, the town of
Warrensburg has also identified the desire for a bike-ped connection from
Route 9 south of the hamlet. However, in both cases a number of challenges
exist which complicate the selection of an ideal route.

As such, A/GFTC was asked by the Town of Lake George, in conjunction
with the Village of Lake George and the Town of Warrensburg, to prepare
a concept plan to evaluate a potential extension from the terminus of the
existing Warren County Bikeway through the Village of Lake George and
north to Warrensburg. These concepts can then provide the basis for the
local municipalities to pursue detailed planning, design and construction.

WHAT IS A BIKEWAY?
For the purposes of this report, the term Bikeway refers
to a variety of different types of infrastructure, which
together have been designated as a facility for non-
vehicular use with a priority given to cycling. These may
include:
• Shared-use paths can be used by cyclists or
pedestrians. These are typically 10-12’ wide and
paved with asphalt or stone dust. Usually, these
are located outside of the road right-of-way; when
located beside a road, they are sometimes referred
to as sidepaths.
• Bike lanes are on-road facilities designated for
bicycle use only, located adjacent to vehicle lanes
with or without a buffer. If on-street parking is also
accommodated on the road, the bike lane is located
between the driving lane and the parking lane.
Pedestrians are not allowed on bike lanes and would
be accommodated via sidewalks. Bike lanes are
typically designated with pavement markings.
• Wide shoulders, which are often located in more
rural settings. Unlike a bike lane, pedestrians may
be accommodated on wide shoulders, especially if
no sidewalks exist. Wide shoulders along a Bikeway
may be delineated with pavement markings.
• Cycle tracks are exclusive bike facilities located
adjacent to vehicle lanes, but physically separated
from vehicular traffic. Two-way cycle tracks allow for
bicycle travel in both directions along one side of
the street.
• Although bicycles are allowed on all public roads,
shared-use lanes offer additional accommodation
for cyclists via extra lane width and pavement
markings.

METHODOLOGY

To guide the project, a steering committee was formed,
with representatives from the Town and Village of
Lake George, Warren County Planning, NYSDOT
Region 1 Planning, and A/GFTC staff. The Town of
Warrensburg participated as a critical stakeholder, with
municipal staff and elected officials providing feedback
on the portions of the project located outside of Lake
George. In addition, several public meetings were held
to gather input.

For this project, the major challenges lay in selecting
potential routes through the Village of Lake George
and the hamlet area in Warrensburg. As with any
developed area, the alignment of a bicycle facility must
take into account the constraints of existing infrastructure,
buildings and structures, rights-of-way, and
natural features. In addition, the safety of future Bike-
way users will be affected by the speed, volume, and
traffic patterns of vehicles on nearby roadways.
As such, for the purposes of this report, the potential
alignment is discussed in terms of three distinct
segments: the Village of Lake George, the Route 9
connector, and the hamlet of Warrensburg. For each
area, route options were evaluated in terms of feasibility,
safety, and user experience, by examining a range of
factors specific to the context of the surrounding area.

SECTION 1: LAKE GEORGE VILLAGE
The Village of Lake George poses a particular set of
challenges for the Bikeway extension. For example, the
high volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the
main thoroughfares and major intersections can make
navigation via bicycle difficult, especially on Beach
Road and Canada Street. The Village itself is densely
developed, which limits available space for additional
infrastructure. In addition, maintaining on-street park-
ing is a high priority for the municipality. Topography
also comes into play, as many of the local streets are
quite steep; combined with the stop-and-go nature of
biking through a developed area, these slopes can be a
barrier for casual or inexperienced cyclists.
The steering committee discussed many options and
potential routes. The various alternatives were evaluat-
ed for safety, feasibility, street/bridge width, steepness
of the route, potential disruption of on-street parking,
private property concerns, connection to the commu –
nity core, directness, and overall user experience. In
almost every case, this involved one or more tradeoffs.
In conducting this analysis within the Village of Lake
George, three primary alignments were identified, each
having potential optional routing. A summary of the
key considerations for these options is included on the
following pages.

Bikeway Evaluation Factors
Safety was evaluated in terms of exposure of cyclists
and pedestrians to vehicle traffic, specifically at
intersections and road crossings, which have an
increased potential for conflict.
Slope was considered as it impacts user experience.
Although some cyclists enjoy the challenge of steep
slopes, the Bikeway is intended to be desireable to
cyclists at every skill level.
Right-of-way was a critical consideration, as alignments
which traverse private property will also increase costs
and project complexity. In general, the more preferred
alternatives avoid private property.
On-street parking was an important factor in both Lake
George and Warrensburg. Alternatives which minimize
disruption to on-street parking resources were
prioritized.
Road and bridge width affect the amount of available
space for dedicated bicycle facilities. For the purposes
of this plan, most alternatives assumed no significant
reconstruction of the road or bridge infrastructure.
Physical barriers, such as embankments or highway
ramps, were considered. The steering committee
considered non-traditional means, such as tunnels, to
overcome barriers when possible.

Option 1: Beach Road/Canada Street
Key Considerations:
• Adding bicycle facilities to Beach Road will require
major reconstruction of the roadway. Given that
the road recently underwent significant improve-
ments involving the use of federal funds, it will be
at least several years before additional funds would
be available to undertake improvements of this
scale. Although Beach Road has wide sidewalks,
the presence of obstacles and the high pedestrian
volume precludes their use as multi-use paths.
• The Beach Road/Canada Street intersection has
multiple turning lanes and cross traffic; this would
require pedestrians and bicyclists to check multiple
locations for oncoming traffic, increasing exposure
to vulnerable road users.
• The traffic volumes and roadway configuration on
Canada Street through the heart of the Village are
not conducive to cycling and lane widths do not
support the introduction of bike lanes. In addition,
the peak hourly vehicular volume makes this section
of the roadway a poor candidate for a road diet. As
such, the steering committee removed this option
from further consideration.

Option 2: Southwest Route
Key considerations:
• Slopes on southern Dieskau Street, western Mc-
Gillis Ave, and western Chestnut Street pose major
impediments to cycling.
• Routing is circuitous and offers poor connection to
the Village core.

Preferred Option: West Brook & West
Neighborhoods
The preferred option is a two-way sidepath, separated
from vehicular traffic, along West Brook Road to
Route 9. This would be located on the north side of
the southern branch of West Brook Road, between the
roadway and the brook itself. Although there are many
options for locating the Bikeway alongside the road
or within West Brook Park, this option was selected
by the steering committee after consultation with the
Warren County Department of Public Works as it
offers a balance of feasibility and connectivity to Route
9.
The Bikeway then travels alongside Route 9 between
West Brook Road and Mohican Street. In this section,
there are two options: bike lanes on either side of the
roadway, or a separated two-way cycle track on the
west side of Route 9. Each option offers pros and cons.
Bike lanes would be easier to design and construct, and
could be implemented with re-striping the roadway
as part of routine maintenance. However, this would
require an additional crossing at the north branch
of West Brook Road, which is currently configured
as a slip lane. This intersection would need to be
reconfigured as shown on page 6. In addition, bikes
traveling north would then have to cross Route 9 at
Mohican Street, which is unsignalized. This could be
accomplished by merging into the left lane and turning
with traffic, or by dismounting and walking the bike
across the road at the existing crosswalk.

If the separated two-way option is chosen, only one crossing of Route 9 would be needed,
at the West Brook Road intersection as seen to the top left. This is also an unsignalized
intersection, and there is currently no crosswalk at this location. Adequate signage and
striping would need to be installed to increase the visibility of the crossing to motorists. No
crossing would be needed at Mohican Street, as the Bikeway users would already be on the
west side of the road.
At Mohican Street, the preferred alternative traverses the neighborhoods as a shared
roadway, following Dieskau, McGillis, Helen, Montcalm, and finally to Cooper St. Though
it is indirect, it provides good connection to the village, direct connection to the Prospect
Mountain, and a visual connection to the lake. Public bicycle parking can be located on
McGillis, just before Helen.
From Cooper Street, the Bikeway would transition to an off-road facility, utilizing the
National Grid right-of-way. The preferred but high cost option is to bore a tunnel under the
Exit 22 ramps to Cherry Street. Although costly, this route is an optimal opportunity for the
trail to avoid the slip ramps and intersections around the Exit 22 and Route 9 convergence.
From Cherry St. the trail could continue to the National Grid right of way at the end of
Thompson Street before using Big Hollow Road to intersect with Route 9 and continue
north.
The more feasible option is for the trail route to continue northeast past the Town/Village
office complex, paralleling the Exit 22 ramps. This trail proposal may be encumbered by
two private properties near the Route 9 intersection with Exit 22 ramp. However, the
steering committee feels that the property owners may be amenable to an agreement. Upon
intersecting with Route 9, the proposed route would continue north under the overpass as
a two-way separated cycle track on the west side of the road. This would then transition
to bike lanes on both sides of the road, requiring a crossing to be located near the Upper
Hubbell intersection.

SECTION 2: TOWN OF LAKE
GEORGE ROUTE 9 CONNECTOR
To connect Lake George to Warrensburg, several
alignment options were considered. In addition to uti-
lizing the Route 9 corridor (discussed on the following
page), the other alternatives included:
Option 1:
• Utilize the dirt roads/jeep trails and paths north
of Prospect Mountain to travel west toward Harrington
Hill Road. This option was considered too
indirect, substantially hilly and potentially significantly
costly to explore further.
Option 2:
• An eastern route using Flat Rock Road to Trues-
dale Road was considered too hilly and indirect.
Option 3:
• The old trolley line corridor, which runs parallel to
the west side of Route 9, was also considered as it
would provide a direct off-road connection between
Lake George and Warrensburg. Due to the cost of
improving the power corridor, moving poles and
installing drainage, installing a multi-use path on
the National Grid right of way, the concept was
removed from consideration as a transportation
facility. However, this concept would be ideal for
future consideration as a recreational mountain bike
connection.

Preferred Option
The preferred conceptual alignment utilizes the Route
9 right of way. The existing pavement is approximate-
ly 44’ wide, providing ample space for either buffered
bike lanes on either side or a separated two-way shared
use path on one side of the road. Either option can be
accommodated within the existing pavement width.
However, the buffered bike lane option could be imple-
mented by restriping the pavement, a relatively low-
cost option which could be accomplished as a stand –
alone project or during the next round of pavement
maintenance. The two-way shared use path would
require construction of a physical barrier as well as
re-grading the crown of the roadway. This would be
more costly. Given that much of Route 9 in this section
was recently re-surfaced, the likelihood of quick imple –
mentation is reduced.
The most significant challenge is how to traverse the
north end of this portion of the Bikeway. The inter-
section of Diamond Point Road and Route 9 presents a
challenge for bicycle/pedestrian activity. There are two
slip lanes at this signalized intersection, as well as a
left-turn lane heading southbound on Route 9 from the
hamlet of Warrensburg. Although there are shoulders
on both sides of the roadway, the width is constrained
on the east side of Route 9 by guiderails.
As such, the preferred alternative is to construct
buffered bike lanes for most of the length of Route 9
between Lake George Village and Warrensburg, uti-
lizing the two-way shared use path at the north end
of this section of the Bikeway. If located on the west
side of Route 9, the Bikeway will thereby avoid the
intersection slip lanes at Diamond Point Road. This
requires designating a crossing point at a safe location
for cyclists traveling northbound (east lane).

SECTION 3: WARRENSBURG

In the Town of Warrensburg, the Bikeway is proposed
to terminate at the Warrensburg Recreation Field on
Library Avenue. This provides a logical destination from
which future Bikeway continuation concepts can extend.
There are a number of challenges to creating an inviting
and functional Bikeway within Warrensburg. From the
south, a 2-way cycle track on the west side of Route 9
is proposed, approaching the Warrensburg town bound-
ary. However, right-of-way and other physical features
preclude the continuation north of Prosser Road. North
of the Schroon River bridge, Route 9/Main Street has
an urbanized cross-section with sidewalks, curbs, and
narrow shoulders or on-street parking. This limits the
available space for dedicated bicycle facilities. In terms
of alternate facilities, River Road is narrow, winding and
has a limited shoulder. All of the bridges from River
Street to the north side of the Schroon River are narrow,
with sidewalks on only one side. Given these constraints,
three options were evaluated for this plan.

Option 1 National Grid/Swan Street:
This option was eliminated from further consideration
but is included in the plan for the purposes of discussion.
Key Considerations:
• This option would require easements from National
Grid and a private property owner to access Swan
Street.
• The blind corner and steep grade at Sunset Street
are impediments to routing the Bikeway along this
alignment.
• This option would require a significant amount of
back-tracking to reach the Recreation Field.

Option 2: Baker’s Crossing/River Street
Key Considerations:
• Baker’s Crossing and Harrington Hill are narrow streets with sections of steep
grade. Although both facilities have low vehicle traffic, current lane widths are too
narrow to support shared lane markings. Baker’s Crossing in particular has no pave-
ment markings at all. The lack of pavement markings on a local roadway does not
imply that the street is unsuitable for bicycle use; however, it may be undesireable for
some cyclists.
• River Street is currently too narrow for dedicated bicycle lanes to be accommodated
without extensive reconstruction of the roadway. However, given the slower speeds
and volumes of this roadway, shared use lanes would be an acceptable alternative.
• Milton Street and Richards Avenue bridges are narrow, as noted above. The existing
travel lane widths are too narrow to support shared lane markings. Cyclists would
need to share the lane with traffic or dismount and use the sidewalks. The intersec-
tion of Richards Avenue and Water Street also has issues with sight distance and
above-average accident rates, which have previously been examined by the town and
NYSDOT.

Option 3: Route 9
Key Considerations:
• This option continues the 2-way cycle track from Lake George north. At Prosser
Road, the 2-way cycle track would end, in favor of bike lanes or shared use lanes. As
such, cyclists would use the Route 9 crossing to continue northward. The installa-
tion of a crosswalk signal actuation button that can be accessed by bicyclists without
needing to dismount is recommended.
• If the existing road width is utilized and the maintenance of parking facilities a
priority, space will be limited for dedicated bicycle facilities. With the current curb-
to-curb width, a dedicated bike lane is only feasible on the east side for some portions
of the roadway, with the Bikeway on the west side being carried in a shared use lane.
Although this would increase the amount of dedicated bicycle infrastructure over
the current condition, the inconsistency of facility type on either side of the road –
way is not a desireable long-term solution.

Preferred option:
In selecting from among the feasible alternatives in
Warrensburg, each option involves considerable trade-
offs. Although the River Road option is less direct and
does not expose cyclists directly to the core of the
hamlet, the roadways carry considerably less traffic
and may therefore result in a more desirable cycling
experience. The Main St./Route 9 option, conversely,
brings the Bikeway into the heart of the community;
however, without continuous dedicated bicycle lanes,
the higher traffic and on-street parking along Route 9
are considerable disincentives to cycling.
As such, the preferred option in Warrensburg
involves a phased approach. In the short-term, Bakers
Crossing/River Street could serve as a viable route
for the Bikeway. Much of this section was previously
studied in the River Street Streetscape Revitalization
Plan; the recommendations of that plan are still valid
for this project as well. The off-road connector behind
the school is also feasible for construction in the short-
to medium-term, as it poses no right-of-way challenges
and could serve as a stand-alone facility.
In the long term, the 2-way cycle track could be
extended to Prosser Road, as shown at left. This would
require a crossing (see inset) to separate north and
south bound bicycle traffic to the appropriate side of
the roadway. Pedestrian push-buttons which could
be activated by cyclists without dismounting would
provide an ideal crossing opportunity.

Continuing north, every effort should be
made to redesign the roadway to include
dedicated bicycles facilities when NYSDOT
undertakes future large-scale resurfacing
or reconstruction projects on Route 9. The
Bikeway could then be redesignated to follow
Main Street, which would in turn facilitate
further extensions to northern Warren
County in the future. Illustrated at left are
conceptual designs which maximize available
curb-to-curb width. As can be seen, given
current configuration of sidewalks and on-
street parking, there is not sufficient room
to include bike lanes for the entire length
of Main Street. The future large-scale
reconstruction effort for this section of Route
9 would ideally prioritize consistent dedicated
bicycle facilities on both sides of the street.

IMPLEMENTATION
Bringing a project from concept to construction can be a daunting prospect. This is
especially true in cases involving infrastructure owned by another agency, such as
NYSDOT. However, a careful approach and long-term planning can spell success. Indeed,
one example of successful collaboration between state and local project sponsors can be
seen in the recently completed Lake George Gateway project. The lessons learned from
that process can be applied to future implementation efforts for the Bikeway extension.
Key considerations for implementation include:
Sponsorship, Ownership, and Maintenance
Deciding which agency will be responsible for ongoing pursuing design and construction,
as well as ongoing operations and maintenance, is a critical first step. Although this plan
involves extending the Warren County Bikeway, there is no implied burden on the County
to implement the recommendations in this document. As this plan was undertaken on
behalf of the Town and Village of Lake George, it would be reasonable to identify the
municipality as a potential project sponsor. Similarly, the Town of Warrensburg could
pursue these recommendations within their jurisdiction. These local municipalities should
continue to coordinate all implementation efforts with NYSDOT for the portions of the
Bikeway which align with state-owned facilities.

Right-of-Way Acquisition
Before a trail can be designed and constructed, the project sponsor must secure the rights
to access the land. For the sections of trail that are located along a public roadway, this is
likely to be straightforward, as access can likely be granted with proper permitting and
maintenance agreements. Similarly, the section of off-road connector along the Schroon
River in Warrensburg is also located in publicly owned parcels. However, in the Village
of Lake George, the preferred alternative includes a section of off-road Bikeway along
a National Grid utility corridor. It is therefore recommended that the project sponsor
begin the negotiation process as early as possible, preferably by demonstrating that the
conditions which are most likely to be requested by the utility company can be met. Even
still, there is no guarantee that National Grid will be willing to enter an agreement to
grant access.

IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGE: UTILITY EASEMENTS
Every utility company has a unique
policy regarding trail on their
property. There are considerations
for liability and maintenance, as
well as ensuring future access for
equipment maintenance. Historically,
National Grid has required a full set of
design documents as a pre-requisite
to granting an easement for trail
construction. This approach allows
the company to fully vet all aspects
of the proposed trail ahead of time.
However, since most grant sources
require that an applicant demonstrate
site control before funding will be
given out, this poses a difficulty for
local municipalities; transportation
funding often bundles design and
construction as one package. Given
that trail design can cost tens of
thousands of dollars, not many local
agencies can afford to design a trail
without receiving grant funding.
Recently, National Grid has struck an
agreement with the Hudson Valley
Greenway to provide access for the
Empire State Trail. This long-term
lease agreement was granted before
detailed design was completed. As a
condition of the agreement, National
Grid will be involved in the design
process. The agreement also calls
for conditions relating to the trail
specifications and other factors.

Cost/Funding
Obtaining funding for design and construction can be a challenge. Concept-level
cost estimates have been prepared based on the preferred alternatives listed in this
document. (For detailed cost breakdowns, see Appendix 1). These estimates are order-
of-magnitude costs, intended to allow project sponsors to gain a rough idea of how
much funding might be needed before pursuing design and construction. There are a
number of grant programs which provide funding for design, construction, or both.
The list below includes several options, however, non-traditional sources of funding,
such as public-private partnerships or other groups, may provide additional assistance.
The grant programs listed below have historically allowed for trail or trail-related
projects; future eligibility is not guaranteed.
• Recreational Trails Program: 80/20 grant, $25,000/$200,000 project min./max.
• Make the Connection Program: 80/20 grant, $75,000 project min.
• Transportation Alternatives Program: 80/20 grant, $250,000/$5M project
min./max.
• Waterfront Revitalization Program Implementation: 75/25grant, $2M project
max.
• Climate Smart Communities (Mitigation Category): 50/50 grant, $10,000/$2M
project min./max.
• Green Innovation Grant Program (Permeable Pavement): match varies, no project min.