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Malta Avenue traffic concerns addressed

Stop signs added, lower speed limit asked

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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— New stop signs will be installed at two intersections in Ballston Spa and a speed limit reduction will be requested in Malta, both as the result of residents’ concerns about traffic on Malta Avenue.

The county road is a main route between Ballston Spa and the Northway. Residents of both communities are unhappy about both travel speeds and the number of commercial trucks that use the road.

As soon as next week, Ballston Spa will be installing new stop signs on Malta Avenue, at the intersection with Chapman Street and around East Grove Street and Hyde Boulevard. There are safety and sight-distance issues at those intersections that justify installation of the signs, Mayor John P. Romano said.

“You can’t use stop signs to control speed, but you can use then to address safety issues,” Romano said.

The decision to install the stop signs was made at a Village Board meeting last week — on the same night a Malta Avenue resident submitted a petition asking the village to install electronic speed-monitoring signs she believes will get people to slow down. The resident, Roxanne Marsh, said the speed monitors would be a better answer to the problems on Malta Avenue than stop signs.

“I think they’re the least expensive answer,” she said of the stop signs.

Stop signs at the Chapman Street intersection are justified because of limited sight distance due to cars that park on the streets around the Malta Avenue School, Romano said.

“I’ve had a number of calls from people who reported having near-accidents there,” he said.

The Hyde Boulevard intersection also has limited sight distance, he said, because of curves, while Ralph Street merges with Malta Avenue at a sharp angle only a short distance to the west.

Romano said the village is also trying to address the truck issue with an increased police presence to enforce a 5-ton weight limit on Malta Avenue and conduct truck safety inspections.

“We’ve done a lot of proactive things to address the concerns. They’re valid concerns,” Romano said.

Marsh said she’s been writing letters to officials about Malta Avenue issues since 2005.

“I don’t feel it should have taken this long to be pro-active,” she said.

Romano said the stop signs as a solution came up during his conversations with Police Chief Charles Koenig.

“We’ll give them a try and see how they work,” he said.

In Malta, meanwhile, the Town Board this week received a petition requesting the speed limit on Malta Avenue for about 0.6 miles immediately east of Ballston Spa be reduced from 40 mph to 30 mph.

That section is lined with single-family residences and includes the entrance to the Abner Doubleday youth baseball complex. The road then becomes rural, with a 55 mph limit.

The speed limit outside the village should be lowered because the area has new families with people who want to walk into the village, said Marsh, who also organized the speed limit petition. For most of that stretch, there are no sidewalks.

The Town Board will pass the request along to Saratoga County and the state Department of Transportation for review. The county owns the road; DOT has the final decision-making authority on speed reduction requests.

“I’m not going to ignore a petition that has 100 signatures,” said Malta town Supervisor Paul J. Sausville.

In 2010, the town supported a request to lower the speed limit along the entire three-mile length of Malta Avenue, but DOT turned it down. A study at that time found 80 percent of drivers travelled above the speed limit in the 40 mph zone. “This is a reasonable request,” Marsh said.

 
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