This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Albany County - New York OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISOR John Clarkson
445 DELAWARE AVENUE DELMAR, NEW YORK 12054 (518) 439-4955 x1164 Fax: (518) 439-1699 Email: JClarkson@townofbethlehem.org
April 21, 2014 David Flaum, CEO, Flaum Management Company, Inc. John Signor, President, Capital OTB Justin McCarthy, Principal, Justin McCarthy Consulting, LLC
Gentlemen: I am writing to you regarding your proposed application to the New York Gaming Facility Location Board for the “E-23” Casino project. The Town of Bethlehem has substantial concerns about the potential adverse traffic impacts of your proposal. In this regard, I want to alert you to prior studies and data on traffic conditions on Route 9W and other roads that would be affected by such proposal should it move forward. Please note that this communication is limited to transportation issues. There are many other impacts which the Town and its residents are concerned about that will be raised separately, including criminal justice concerns, quality of life issues and environmental impacts. We are also looking at economic effects, and will carefully review any figures you might have to share with us. At our April 9, 2014 meeting, the Town Board heard from many Bethlehem residents regarding the E-23 proposal. Many expressed concerns, and some expressed support. As you know, at the May 28 Town Board meeting we will hold a hearing on this proposal. We appreciate your willingness to attend this meeting, make a presentation concerning your proposal, and answer questions from our residents. As noted, the Town and its residents are highly concerned about the increase in traffic along the Route 9W corridor, both in the immediate vicinity of the proposed E-23 Casino project site and further south. Travel between the Town of Bethlehem and the City along the stretch of road between Delaware Avenue, 787 and 9W may also be impacted (i.e., McAlpin Street/Southern Boulevard/McCarty Avenue/Route 9W). In 2008, the Town conducted a US Route 9W Corridor Transportation Planning Assessment to study this corridor’s ability to accommodate traffic generated by additional development. This assessment examined how well the current roadway accommodates all transportation modes and what roadway infrastructure improvements will be needed to handle traffic from additional economic development (both residential and commercial) in the future. While a build-out scenario and regional background growth rates were applied, the assessment did not
contemplate a significant project such as the proposed E-23 Casino along the Route 9W corridor. The Assessment concluded that the 9W corridor segment between the Delmar Bypass (Route 32) and Feura Bush Road (Route 910A) would potentially exceed maximum capacity by year 2026. In other words, the existing two travel lane configuration of Route 9W in Bethlehem may be overwhelmed by the traffic expected by 2026, even without the proposed E23 casino. The Assessment recommended the addition of a second northbound travel lane between US Route 32 (Delmar By-Pass) and Feura Bush Road as an acceptable condition. In the long term, the desirable condition is for this corridor segment to include two northbound and two southbound travel lanes. Under both scenarios, a vegetated center median and bicycle and pedestrian improvements would also be needed. While maximum capacity was projected in year 2026, the proposed E-23 Casino project may significantly hasten the need for the travel lane improvements. Additionally, the E-23 Casino project will impact multiple intersections along the 9W corridor. Specifically, additional traffic will affect operations at the Route 9W/Southern Boulevard/787 Ramp intersection and Route 9W/Noonan Lane intersection, which serves commuters and travelers to and from the City of Albany and Town of Bethlehem. Any traffic impact study conducted for the E-23 Casino project application should take into account the recommendations in the Route 9W Assessment and include an analysis of the following signalized intersections in Bethlehem:
US Route 9W and Corning Hill Road US Route 9W and Plank Road US Route 9W and Bethlehem Town Center II driveway US Route 9W and Bethlehem Town Center driveway US Route 9W and Bender Lane US Route 9W and Feura Bush Road
The Study should also include development proposals currently under consideration and review by the Town of Bethlehem (see Wemple Corners DEIS Appendix F). An understanding of the cumulative transportation impact of current development proposals and the proposed E-23 Casino project needs to be conducted to identify appropriate mitigation measures. Furthermore, if access from the Delaware Avenue (NYS Route 443) corridor is contemplated, a thorough analysis of the E-23 Casino project’s impacts to this roadway should also be conducted. You have raised the possibility of several roadway improvements, including a new exit ramp or ramps from Exit 23, new traffic signals, and intersection improvements such as a traffic circle. The area where the E-23 project would go already suffers from significant rush hour congestion, and we strongly encourage you to broadly address improvements in this area, as well as along the Route 9W corridor, should the project move forward. I am concerned that adding congestion to primary road connections between the City of Albany and surrounding municipalities could be damaging to the City as an employment and cultural center.
I appreciate your understanding that the Casino project will create additional traffic pressure on an already congested area, and therefore a traffic study in conjunction with your application is obviously needed. Moreover, given the Town of Bethlehem’s strong interest in this area, we would like to review such study as soon as reasonably practicable. Early June would be desirable, or I fear we will go into the Gaming Facility Location Board hearing(s) without good knowledge of what you propose in traffic mitigation or upon what basis it is founded. I recognize the timeframe is short, but that condition makes earlier communication with stakeholders all the more important. Please let me know your projected schedule for the traffic study. In the upcoming weeks, leading to the June 30, 2014 casino licensing application deadline, the Town Board will hear from residents about their concerns for the project and its impact on Bethlehem. We will continue to monitor the E-23 Casino proposal, develop further impact estimates, and evaluate the issues. We appreciate the opportunity to have Flaum Management and Capital District OTB available as we develop additional information. Thank you again for your cooperation in providing information, and please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions. Sincerely,
John Clarkson Town Supervisor
cc: Mayor Sheehan, County Executive McCoy, NYS Gaming Facility Location Board, Senator Breslin, Assemblywoman Fahy, Assemblyman McDonald