Roundabouts given green light in Malta
Circles deemed safest option for congestion
MALTA Building new roundabouts at two intersections on Round Lake Road remains controversial but is the “preferred alternative” for addressing growing traffic volumes, the Malta Town Board decided Monday.
The 4-1 vote in favor runs counter to the feelings of many residents in the southern part of town, who have strenuously opposed the tight-radius traffic circles since the idea was first broached nearly three years ago.
The board vote authorizes engineers to continue developing detailed construction plans for roundabouts. Until now, traffic-light-based improvements had still been one of the options under consideration for the intersections with Chango Drive and Raylinsky-Ruhle roads.
Supporters of roundabouts say they’re safer, for drivers in particular, than traditional intersections.
“The state engineers unequivocally tell us the roundabouts are the safest solution, which supports what our engineers tell us,” said town Supervisor Paul J. Sausville.
Councilman John Hartzell was the only board member to vote against the recommendation, which came from Creighton-Manning Engineering, the Albany firm studying how to address growing traffic volumes on the road.
“In all honesty, I don’t think the benefits are that substantially greater that I should tell people they should have to have something they don’t want,” he said.
The intersection improvements would be a way of addressing growing traffic volumes in the area, caused by commercial development near Northway Exit 11 and a boom in residential construction in the town of Ballston.
During discussion, board members decided not to insist on a raised median in the road to slow traffic as it is coming into the roundabouts. Saratoga County owns the road, and the county Department of Public Works has said it would refuse to maintain such medians, because they are a “non-standard” road feature.
The county’s policy has been to deed over to the towns any sections of county road where the municipality wants improvements that aren’t standard for county roads.
“It’s kind of a little blackmail that’s troublesome for me. … I don’t think the town has any interest in taking over that part of the road,” Sausville said.
The board also decided that there should be some form of educational campaign about how pedestrians should cross the road near roundabouts, though members opted not to recommend any specific amount of money for it.
Neighborhood roundabout opponents said they’d be troubled if there was no raised median, and they remain concerned about pedestrian safety.
“We were told the medians would be put in to slow traffic down,” said resident Kathy Eitzmann. “I have great concern if the medians are not part of the plan.”
Another resident, Elwood Sloat, said the board isn’t giving enough weight to the safety issues raised by residents, who are concerned about pedestrians crossing the road. “There’s no way that it’s safer,” he said.
The roundabouts would be built with a $4.75 million federal transportation grant, though there’s concern that the money could be lost if construction doesn’t start by October.