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Stimulus Package Hits Close to Home. Literally.

By Ed O'Keefe

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How's this for "beyond the Beltway" experience: Skimming through the new White House 100-days progress report on the economic stimulus package, I noticed that the massive jobs and recovery project has directly impacted my hometown of Delmar, N.Y.

(A reporter should rarely, if ever, use the first person, but since other colleagues have done it recently and the bosses are trying to develop our personalities, then permit me this one time.)

"Construction began on May 1st on the $14.9 million Delaware Avenue reconstruction project in Albany County, New York, the first Recovery Act funded-construction contract awarded in the State," according to the report. "The project will reconstruct 1.6 miles of Delaware Avenue between Madison Avenue and the bridge over the New York State Thruway that links Albany to the Town of Delmar."

Delmar?! My Delmar? (Or "Dullmar" as some prefer to call it.) During high school I regularly traveled Delaware Avenue into Albany to meet up with friends, head to piano lessons or to reach nearby highways. It is the easiest way to get from Delmar into Albany, to visit Lark Street, the Empire State Plaza or other spots. And yes -- it needs a pave job.

Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) announced earlier this month that New York expects to spend $98 million on transportation and infrastructure projects in the Capital Region, creating an estimated 2,300 jobs.

At the Northeastern end of the project (at point A in the map above) sits Tandoor Palace, an Indian restaurant straddling the intersection of Delaware Avenue, Madison Avenue and Lark Street. The project's impact on business is still unclear, according to daytime manager Shanna Sweet.

“It’s difficult to say if it’s that or the general atmosphere, the general economic climate. We don’t have off-street parking anyway so it could definitely have an impact on us. I’m sure that a lot of the businesses have suffered a lot.”

Sweet called the project's goals of widening the street and cleaning up the sidewalks "a little fluffy," and noted that local cyclists were upset that the project did not include dedicated bike lanes (concerns echoed in local media reports).

Up the street at the intersection of Delaware, Morton and Holland Avenues sits Lincoln Pharmacy. Owner Deen Jalal said the project has caused a big problem with street parking in front of his store just weeks before a Walgreens is due to open nearby.

"I’m not worried about the Walgreens, but the construction might mean that my customers might not be able to park here," he said.

“If it helps the economy, that’s OK, but if it’s going to hurt me, I don’t know. I don’t want to stop the progress, but if they could do it a little differently so it doesn’t stop traffic so bad, that would be help."

The project has barely impacted Delaware Tires & Service at the Southwest corner of the project (near point B above).

"They’re trying their best to work around us," said owner Paul Gross.

"It’s good I guess. The street had to be repaved, needed new utilities in." Still, "It doesn’t seem like it’s going to provide extra jobs, because they’re construction jobs working in other areas, but it will improve the area," he said.

The construction project is slated for completion in Fall 2010 and The Eye will keep close tabs on the project until then. He might also hear about it from his mother, who regularly opines that Delmar's traffic has gotten out of control.

Share your thoughts on the economic stimulus package and the impact it's had on your hometown in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 27, 2009; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Tracking the Stimulus  
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