When a teenage pedestrian was killed in June 2016 crossing the dangerous highway that runs through Cohoes, Mayor Shawn Morse said enough is enough. Morse and other city officials have been working since to that stretch of I-787 re-made into a boulevard. Now help is on the way from New York state.
Mayor Morse says for too long, Cohoes has seen the devastation of the highway that runs through its center. "With the change of the boulevard, we are now going to have a more calming effect. The boulevard is gonna be lined with trees and walking paths and bike lanes, and people are gonna realize that, you know, this is a city. This is not just a highway. And by reducing the length that people have to cross from almost 20 feet, it gives people a quicker access to get across 787. We're going to have what's called 'bump out roads' where people will be driving. They'll see the big square, a different color in the middle of the road. Which means that they need to slow down because it has kind of a little speed-bump effect. There's going to be electric signs telling people how fast they're going down 787. And hopefully in the future we'll also have cutouts and we'll see economic development taking place along a stretch of our city that's been landlocked by the highway."
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the conversion will begin this month. Officials say once the traffic-calming project is completed, the speed limit is expected to be reduced from 40 miles per hour. The project will also include two pull-off areas in each direction for police vehicles to park for traffic safety enforcement. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy is delighted by the news. "The crosswalks, the tree lines, cyclists, people-pedestrians walking. This is a transformational project, not just gonna have an effect on the city of Cohoes but people going to the riverfront community, riding on the bike path, like our rail trail. It's gonna be things that are really gonna make a difference in people's life for quality of life and live in a greener and healthier environment."
Morse says the transformation of 787 into Cohoes Boulevard won't take too long to accomplish. "787 should be kickin' off in a few weeks. And we expect it to last the reminder of this season and probably next season, so we could be about a year before, a little longer than a year before start to finish."
Morse sees the boulevard as a complement to recent and anticpated enhancements to the city. "We'll have new sidewalks, new streetscape, new roads finishing up along Remsen Street. We'll have bump-outs of restaurants where people will be putting out tables and chairs. You know, this is gonna have a whole new feel from where we were just two and a half years ago. I think you're gonna have a Saratoga feel. You're going to come into this beautiful city, you're gonna go up to one of the most beautiful downtowns where we have a music hall."