Growing town of Malta eyes two more roundabouts

Saturday, February 11, 2012
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Vehicles roll through a roundabout at Northway Exit 12 in Malta in February 2012.
Vehicles roll through a roundabout at Northway Exit 12 in Malta in February 2012.

— Round Lake Road could get two new roundabouts under a road corridor redesign the town is considering.

If built, they would add to the 13 roundabouts that have appeared in the central and southern parts of town over the last six years. It is an evolution praised by some residents but derided by others.

“The town seems kind of split on how everyone feels about roundabouts. I’ll be interested to hear what everyone has to say,” said town Councilwoman Maggi Ruisi, chairwoman of the Round Lake Road Corridor Planning Committee.

Under a plan unveiled this week to deal with growing traffic, the section between Northway Exit 11 and the Ballston town line would get two new roundabouts. Also, a traffic light would be installed at the western ramps of the Northway exit.

The proposed improvements will be the subject of a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at the Round Lake Firehouse.

“This is dead from the get-go if people just do not want roundabouts,” Ruisi said.

Town officials say they’re just trying to respond to the growing volume of traffic on Round Lake Road. Nearly all of it is due to continuing residential development in the town of Ballston.

“As the region continues to grow, the town of Malta is taking a proactive approach to maintaining efficient traffic patterns and local quality of life within the corridor,” town officials said in a statement.

The arrival of GlobalFoundries and the startup of the intermodal rail yard in Halfmoon are contributing to increased traffic, too, Ruisi said. The stretch will become more of a destination once the new Hannaford supermarket at the Malta Mall opens.

Roundabouts for keeping traffic moving make sense on Round Lake Road, since there isn’t room to widen the two-lane road with additional turn lanes, Ruisi said.

“The issue we have on Round Lake Road is really people trying to make left turns,” she said. “If people are waiting to make a left at Raylinski, traffic will back up all the way to the Northway traffic light.”

Malta’s roundabouts have had a varied reception since the first set of five closely-linked traffic circles opened at Exit 12 in 2006. In many instances, they have become the preferred solution of road designers over new traffic lights.

They’re being built all over the region, but Malta is believed to have more than any other Capital Region community.

The town now has 13 roundabouts, including new ones that opened last year at Route 67 and the Luther Forest Technology Campus entrance, and at Route 9 and Stonebreak Road.

On Round Lake Road, the two proposed roundabouts are part of a larger road redesign that follows a “complete streets” design concept.

That means they include sidewalks and designated bicycle lanes. The area already sees walkers and bikers because there are housing and apartment developments nearby, and the inter-municipal Zim Smith recreation trail passes within a mile. Streetscape beautification measures would include trees and lighting.

The Round Lake Road Mini-Master Plan Committee was appointed in April 2011, and Ruisi said members quickly realized that dealing with the traffic growth would require more than a small tweaking of the existing road design.

“At the first meeting, the traffic was all we talked about,” she said.

The Chazen Group and Creighton Manning, consulting engineers, were hired under a $36,000 contract last October to come up with the road designs. After the Feb. 29 meeting, changes could be made, but Ruisi hopes final designs will be ready by early this summer.

Having the road design ready is a necessary step before applying for federal and state funding for construction.

The cost hasn’t been estimated, but the town potentially has access to $5 million in federal transportation money allocated several years ago for improvements associated with construction of the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

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February 11, 2012
7:51 a.m.
deeder says...

I have to say that I was cool to the idea of roundabouts,however as I use the Malta roundabouts I have become a fan. I have even travelled through many times with my travel trailer and had no issue. There may be a point where an extreme amount of traffic makes them a hazard, but I have yet to feel that way in the Malta area;even during the race track season.

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