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Solution to busy Malta corridor debated

Roundabouts vs. traffic lights for Round Lake Road

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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— The 2-year-old debate over whether traffic lights or roundabouts are the best way to deal with growing traffic volumes on Round Lake Road continued Wednesday night.

About 60 people turned out at Malta Town Hall to hear engineers discuss the pros and cons of a project expected to start construction in late 2014.

“The speed of traffic on Round Lake Road is something that really needs to be addressed,” said Art Olsen, who lives in Avendale, a development on Ruhle Road.

He said he favors the installation of a single-lane roundabout at the Ruhle-Raylinsky intersection with Round Lake Road. “Multiple stop lights just add to driver aggravation,” he said.

Creighton Manning Engineering of Albany was hired by the town earlier this year to look at what improvements are needed to handle increased traffic between East Line Road and Northway Exit 11, including lights or roundabouts at Raylinsky-Ruhle and at Chango Drive.

Resident Elwood Sloat, who is on the project steering committee, continued to speak out against roundabouts, which he said are less safe for pedestrians than traffic light intersections.

“You have a better chance when traffic is stopped than when traffic is moving slow,” he said.

But Steve Godlewski, the Creighton Manning project manager, presented several arguments for roundabouts, including that there are fewer ways that collisions can occur, and accidents that do happen are at lower speeds.

“There’s very little to slow people down at traffic lights,” Godlewski said.

Malta already has a dozen traffic roundabouts, including the series of five around Exit 12 — so they are a topic people feel strongly about, either one way or the other.

Wes Kaczmarek of Miller Road said people will use Ruhle and Miller roads to avoid any roundabouts on Round Lake Road.

“It’s going to force people to do something else to avoid the roundabouts,” he said, calling for the town to install sidewalks on Miller Road, which now has no shoulders.

Traffic on Round Lake Road — which handles up to 14,800 vehicles a day near Exit 11 — is expected to continue to increase over the next 20 years, in large part because of residential development taking place in the town of Ballston.

A commercial corridor has also developed just west of Exit 11, drawing people into the area.

“If you want to have pedestrian safety there, it’s important that vehicles slow down,” said Don Adams, a Creighton Manning partner.

The engineers said both Chango and Ruhle-Raylinsky could have the same solution, or one could have a roundabout and the other a traffic light.

They also discussed whether there should be a raised median built into the road to prevent left turns, but several businesses — including Adirondack Trust and Dr. Gayle Buckley — objected that it would limit access to them.

Adams said comments collected at Wednesday’s meeting will be considered in their final recommendation to the town, planned for this winter.

The goal is to start construction late next year and finish it in 2015, though Godlewski acknowledged that schedule was “aggressive.”

The project currently has $5 million in federal funding, but there’s a risk that that money could be lost if construction isn’t started by late next year, Godlewski said.

“The bottom line is we have the opportunity to fix that corridor as best we can, with some financial resources,” said town Supervisor Paul Sausville.

 
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