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Mechanicville Businesses Take Issue With Detours

Businesses in southern Saratoga County are blaming confusing signage around a public works project for a negative effect on their bottom lines.

Since June, ongoing construction work on the Route 4/32 bridge in Mechanicville has impacted one of the major roadways leading into the small city.

Sal DiSiena, an owner of DiSiena furniture, says signs signaling the closure of the bridge, including ones at Exits 9 and 11 on Interstate 87, and posted detours are confusing motorists and diverting customers.

DiSiena said he’d like to see signs more clearly explaining that the side roads leading into Mechanicville from Exits 9 and 11 are closed to large trucks only.

“To a motorist it’s very confusing. It’s not clear and we feel if it woud say ‘truck detour’ it would clear up a lot of confusion.”

DiSiena and other local business owners and city officials have called on Saratoga County and the New York State Department of Transportation to clear up some of the confusion. Signs have since been posted up saying Mechanicville remains open for business.

DiSiena, who said his business relies on customers driving through town, said he first noticed a lack of customers stopping in during September, and that slowing has continued through fall.

The local chambers have also become involved. Pete Bardunias, President and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, said he has reached out to state and county officials on the matter.

“My overriding purpose in all of this is to make sure businesses don’t get hurt that by any perception that Mechancville cannot be acced by vehicle. We want to make sure people can get in the stores and shop as they normally do.”

Most recently, Bardunias said he spoke with 112th District Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. The city of Mechanicville lies primarily within the 113th District, formerly represented by Tony Jordan, who stepped down in January to become Washington County District Attorney.

The detour plans for the county project were approved by the New York State Department of Transportation. When reached by phone, spokesman for NYSDOT Bryan Viggiani said he could not comment on the Saratoga County project.

Saratoga County Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Thomas Speziale was not available Wednesday afternoon, but told The Saratogian in September that separate detour routes would add to the confusion, saying:

“If a separate car detour route was designated, trucks would also take this same route, which would result in undesirable and unsafe truck traffic through residential areas of the city.”

On Thursday evening, the Mechanicville-Stillwater Chamber of Commerce will sponsor an economic summit. Speakers scheduled to attend include Congressman Paul Tonko and State Senator Kathy Marchione.

Jim Smith, President and CEO of the chamber, and an owner of Chase-Smith Family Funeral Homes, said he hopes to communicate the issues with his elected leaders.

“We definitely do intend to make our issues known to the public officials.”

The work on the Route 4/32 bridge is scheduled to be completed in late November.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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