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Malta wants GloFo to pay for more traffic improvements

Company says request is unfair

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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— The Malta Town Board wants GlobalFoundries to help pay for planned improvements on Round Lake Road west of Northway Exit 11 — but the company is resisting.

A majority of the Town Board wants the computer chip giant to fund the entire local share of the improvements — as much as $1 million — as part of compensation for increased traffic, if a second GlobalFoundries factory is built in Luther Forest.

But the company is objecting, noting that the plans for the $5 million Round Lake Road project were in preparation months before its Fab 8.2 plant was proposed in January.

“For a project that was already on the town schedule, it does not seem fair to us to be assessing GlobalFoundries 100 percent of the cost,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, GlobalFoundries’ local attorney.

All five Town Board members think GlobalFoundries should pay something toward Round Lake Road work, though only three want GlobalFoundries to pay the entire local share.

“If we’re going to maintain our status as tax free with the highway tax, we’re going to have to get money any way we can,” said Town Supervisor Paul Sausville, who wants GlobalFoundries to cover the entire local share. The town does not have a highway tax.

GlobalFoundries has already agreed to take responsibility for improvements at six other intersections because of anticipated traffic if the $14.7 billion Fab 8.2 is built. The Round Lake corridor project would be a seventh.

One of the six identified improvements is a traffic light at Northway Exit 11’s southbound ramps, at the eastern end of the Round Lake corridor.

As they try to wrap up an environmental impact review of GlobalFoundries’ plans, town officials have been looking at how much a new plant would increase traffic on Round Lake Road.

Town engineers The Chazen Group have concluded a Fab 8.2 would increase traffic there, but not enough by itself to warrant additional traffic improvements.

The town is already planning for improvements on Round Lake Road based on residential growth now taking place in the town of Ballston. Round Lake Road connects those developments to the Northway, leading to a new supermarket and other commercial activity along the road.

The study recommended building either roundabouts or turn lanes at Ruhle and Chango roads, as well sidewalks and other off-road improvements. A $580,000 detailed design study due later this year will determine exactly what needs to be done, with plans for construction in 2014.

Planners said the Ruhle Road intersection, which at peak commuter hours can have delays that back vehicles up to Exit 11, is the critical intersection.

At the Town Board’s request, Chazen just completed a follow-up study of Fab 8.2’s impact. It would add more than 100 additional vehicle trips per hour at peak times, which would increase delays — but not trigger a need for improvements by itself.

“This project doesn’t have as significant an effect on (the Ruhle Road) intersection as some of the other projects going on in the area,” said Joe Lanaro, a Chazen engineer.

But Sausville and Town Board members Tara Thomas and Maggi Ruisi said GlobalFoundries should nevertheless pay the local share of the improvements. The local share will be between $250,000 and $1 million, depending on how much state funding is added to the $4.75 million in federal money already allocated to the project.

Sausville said the town is taking responsibility for the improvements even though Saratoga County owns the road, and that isn’t fair to the town.

“We’ve got to look out for our people, and you, GlobalFoundries, have to look out for our people, to make sure this is a world class facility and Malta is a good place to do business,” Sausville told company representatives.

Councilmen John Hartzell and Peter Klotz said they thought 22 percent of the local share would be a more fair amount to assess GlobalFoundries.

Steve Groseclose, GlobalFoundries’ director of sustainability, risk management and real estate, said the company recognizes an obligation to mitigate its traffic impacts, but not necessarily to pay for all the work, even at the six previously identified intersections.

“Each one is a complicated analysis of what is a fair share,” Groseclose said. “One hundred percent is not a fair share in our opinion, and we need to work on what a fair share is.”

At the company’s request, the town is trying to complete the environmental review by July 1.

GlobalFoundries has yet to make a final decision to build Fab 8.2, which could bring the total workforce there to more than 6,500 by 2020.

 
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comments

May 22, 2013
10:22 p.m.
hannah1697 says...

Part of the problem at Exit 11 is the timing of the traffic light at the intersection of Round Lake Road with Ruhle Road South and Raylinsky. I've timed it a number of times over the last month or so. From the time the last car clears off either of those two side roads, the delay is about 15 seconds of dead time when nothing is moving. I have, more than once, been able to crest the hill northbound on Raylinsky, have a green light in view with no one else on either Raylinsky or Ruhle, and make that light before it turns, not exceeding the 40 MPH speed limit. It seems to me that if someone wanted to exacerbate the traffic situation there in order to make certain traffic "improvements", such as roundabouts, seem more attractive, artificially increasing the delay times on the current traffic signal would be one easy way of doing it. Just as a point of comparison, a rough estimate of the delay coming off Moe Road onto Grooms in Clifton Park seems to be about 5 to 7 seconds.

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