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Old 08-22-2013, 01:05 AM
1 posts, read 1,997 times
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Hey All,

I'm making a big move to the Schenectady in about a month, and as a born and raised southerner, I know very little about snow/ice driving. I don't want to end up in a ditch this winter so I've been doing a good bit of research, but had a couple questions.

1) Snow tires! Are they absolutely necessary? I know about proper tread depth etc., but could I manage without them? On new-er All Seasons?

2) Any common problem areas around town? I'll be making a commute three times a week from Schenectady down to Albany, anybody know of any dicey areas in terms of traffic/winter troubles?

3) Also, I'm trying to decide on an apartment on Jackson Ave in Schenectady right by the Stadium Golf Club- I know about the more well known hot spots of crime in Schenectady but I'm wondering if I'm outside the riff raff being a bit ways out, almost in Guilderland. Any opinions on crime/general safety of that area would be great.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:05 AM
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 8,295,943 times
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When I had a front wheel drive car, I never put snows on even when I lived in Buffalo, although some people do put them on. On a rear wheel drive car or on a pickup truck, you will need snow tires. If it's 4WD, you might get away with good truck tires if you don't plan on driving outside of suburban Schnectady or Albany. I now drive AWD (Subaru) and don't put on snows despite living in a city that's far snowier than Buffalo or Syracuse and much hillier than Albany.

I lived in the Albany area for about a decade in the late 1980s and 1990s. I lived in Ravena (a little town south of Albany), Troy or Colonie and worked in either downtown Albany or Menands, so I can't really say much about the commute between the cities. The CDTA runs an express bus between the downtown areas that you can take if your job sites are in/near downtown area. Parking in downtown Albany was expensive when I worked there, and I'm sure it hasn't improved, so taking the bus might be a good option.

The Schnectady exits off I90 can get backed up during rush hour. Exit 24 always gets backup, even on weekends, so you're best bet is to go to Exit 23 where you can get on 787 to go into downtown Albany, Rensselaer or Troy/Cohoes. Route 7 is a pretty good commuting route between Schnectady and Cohoes/Troy. I think Consaul Road/Albany Shaker Road is another decent route between Schnectady and Loudonville/northern end of Albany.

The biggest problem with snow in Albany is that they aren't very proactive about it, so the roads tend to get slick because the road crews don't get out there and sand/salt/plow early on. One of the Wolf Road exits off the Northway (I don't remember it's # but it's on the northbound side, and features a sharp right hand curve with a fairly steep slope) was infamous for accidents happening with a little bit of snow because cars couldn't stop at the bottom and sometimes even slid off the side of it.

Good luck with your move. I found the Capital District to be a pretty decent place to live and a good place to grow a career. It's only drawback for me was it wasn't "home".

The Capital District is big enough to have lots of amenities like malls and bars and restaurants, but because it's broken down into a bunch of smallish cities (Albany being the largest), newcomers aren't overwhelmed. There's lots of history, decent night life for a single person, a variety of cultural events, lots of opportunities for outdoor activities, etc. The area is diverse and progressive for its size, probably because of the presence of the colleges and the state government.

Be sure you tour the Adirondaks and hit the Saratoga Race Track (called "the Flat Track" by locals) at least once. A drive through the Berkshires or southern Vermont on a sunny October afternoon with the leaves in full color will tell you why so many people go "leaf peeping" in New England. You can take AMTRAK down to NYC for a day or a weekend. Boston is about 3 hours away, Montreal about 4 (I think you can take AMTRAK there as well).
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:26 AM
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I moved from Louisiana to New England back in 08. I bought a Subaru before I left, and I got snow tires when I got there. Only because I knew I was going to spend some time in deep snow and driving up the side of a mountain or two (Vermont). Where I was living they kept the roads clear as possible, they actually did quite a good job in retrospect. They depend on tourists getting up to ski resorts there. They keep the roads clear. They'd be up all night if they needed to on a typical winter night moderate snow night.

When I moved to Albany from Vermont, I was shocked at how pathetic snow removal is in the Capital District. I know it's more dense, but I had my snow tires on a freaking Subaru and had trouble getting home from (ironically) an oil change on Wolf Road. It was truly perplexing that they would let snow get to that point. I think it's a combination of density and no incentive to be proactive with snow removal. I'll put it this way, if Vermont snow movers are up all night or 4 a.m. to clear snow for the morning rush, in the Captial District you're leaving your house at 7:30 and the snow movers are getting out there when you are. By then it's too late.

They do try to keep the interstates clear, but the surface streets are total crap in my experience.

I think the answer is your mileage may vary when it comes to the Captial District and the snow!

I know very little about Schenectady other than I liked the Honest Weight they had there. Thought I'd throw my two cents in as a fellow (former) southerner.
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:01 PM
Location: Toronto, Canada
11 posts, read 15,266 times
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I live in Toronto and have lived here all my life. Typically the amount of people who put snow tires on here is about half. It's mainly for people who live on the smaller streets or deep in neighbourhoods, where snow might not be cleared for about 2 weeks after a big storms. If its expected to be a snowy winter and considering Albany is similar to many communities in Ontario, I would definitely suggest getting snow tires. I believe the Albany area receives around the same amount of snow as Barrie, Ontario, and everyone there has snow tires. Also being from Alabama you might never have seen snow before so the whole massive lake effect snow storm thing might be a shock to you. Ive seen them and trust me, if you get caught draining on the highway in one and are inexperienced in winter driving, you're gonna have a bad time. They can reduce visibility to absolute zero so keep an eye out for flurries that start to pick up in intensity. If you have the chance get off the highway. Hope you enjoy living in Albany!
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:02 PM
Location: Toronto, Canada
11 posts, read 15,266 times
Reputation: 22
News Flash: Albany only gets 61 inches, almost the same as Toronto. So my words are probably quite accurate.
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