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Long-awaited Vale Mills roundabout to open Monday

Thursday, September 29, 2011
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Work continues on a roundabout at the intersection of routes 30 and 29 in the town of Mayfield on Tuesday.
Work continues on a roundabout at the intersection of routes 30 and 29 in the town of Mayfield on Tuesday.

— To the delight of local businesses and residents, the new roundabout at the intersection of routes 30 and 29 will open next week after months of construction.

If all goes as planned, the roundabout at Vail Mills should open Monday, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Anthony Ilacqua. The $5.4 million project has been in the works since 2006; construction began last spring.

Fulton County Planning Board Director James Mraz warned motorists to drive with caution as they get used to the new traffic pattern, especially since construction on the project will still be occurring.

“It’s nothing that wasn’t expected, but the construction has been a distraction for the people who live and work in the area,” said Mraz. “It’s to their credit they’ve had to put up with it, but the project is only partially completed.”

According to Ilacqua, work still needs to be done on the roundabout’s “center island” as well as the “splitter islands,” the concrete barriers that help guide traffic. The roundabout should be completed before winter.

Starting next spring, construction will begin on the other portion of the DOT’s project, which includes a new bridge over the Kenyetto Creek, widening the county Highway 155-Route 30 intersection and installing a traffic light with a two-lane turn.

“We had intended to do the bridge this season, but we got delayed after the contractor was taken away for flood recovery projects,” Ilacqua said. “The overall project will still be completed on time.”

Nearby merchants are happy to see construction winding down.

Brian Showers, owner of Fritz’s Pizza and Subs on Route 30 in Broadalbin, said his lunch crowd practically disappeared when construction began.

“In 25 years, this is the first year ever I can say I lost money,” he said. “I would have been better off being closed every day, I lost so much.”

Showers estimates he lost between $15,000 and $22,000 within the past six months, mostly because costumers didn’t want to bothered with the drive and other times because his driveway was blocked by construction vehicles.

“People didn’t have a place to park. I think it will be great when it’s done. It should speed up deliveries,” he said.

Next door at Knockout Designs Salon, owner Kelley Musillo said business has been steady with her regular customers, but far fewer walk-ins have stopped for a cut. The construction is mostly affecting her male clientele, as they are more likely to want a quick, last-minute haircut than women.

“Women are more likely to make an appointment and keep it,” said Musillo. “She doesn’t want anyone to see her gray hairs; she’ll drive though a snowstorm if needed.”

Musillo hopes the number of walk-ins on lunch breaks will pick up when construction is through.

The town of Mayfield is still not happy with the sidewalks that were installed, though Supervisor Rick Argotsinger said there’s little that can be done about it now that the project is nearly complete.

“We had an issue with them because we didn’t feel there was enough pedestrian traffic to warrant the sidewalks, and that’s still our position. Now [the town] is responsible for their upkeep.”

Argotsinger explained the town council was told the sidewalks were needed for handicapped accessibility and they must be installed because federal money was used on the project. But he feels the only place the sidewalks will be used is near the rail trail, and because the sidewalks go no farther than the project line, they are essentially “sidewalks to nowhere.”

Since the town doesn’t have a snowblower, Argotsinger is trying to come up with an agreement with the county, which also plows the nearby Fulton County Visitors Center, for it to take care of the snow. If not, the town will need to buy a snowblower and a trailer to transport it. The town will also have to pay for any damages to the sidewalk.

“It would be a considerable expense to the town and taxpayers if we maintain it ourselves,” he said. “But I do believe something was needed at the intersection because Route 30 is so heavily traveled during the summer. We’ll just have to deal, I suppose.”

 
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