Saratoga County

Concerns voiced on Saratoga Springs roundabout

People who live near the intersection of Church and Myrtle streets fear a roundabout would make i

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People who live near the intersection of Church and Myrtle streets fear a roundabout would make it tougher to turn out of side streets and driveways onto Church Street.

“The traffic is so heavy that we’d never get out of Myrtle Street,” said Diane Conlee, who lives in Woodland Court. “My personal opinion is I would like to see the traffic light stay there.”

While an engineer touted the benefit that roundabouts keep traffic flowing, residents were skeptical.

If traffic on Church Street never stops for a traffic light, pedestrians would have a tough time getting across too, said Mary Withington, who lives at the corner of Myrtle and Marvin streets.

“The beauty of a traffic light is you can get across,” she said. “People don’t stop for pedestrians, and they certainly aren’t going to be stopping for bicyclists.”

The proposal to add a roundabout near Saratoga Hospital also has raised the concern of hospital officials, who note that private citizens driving to the emergency room would have to navigate the circle while already distracted with a sick loved one in the car.

“People are apprehensive about roundabouts anyway,” said Kevin Ronayne, vice president of operations and facilities.

Saratoga Emergency Medical Services is OK with a roundabout, said Steve Godlewski, an engineer with Albany-based Creighton Manning. But 77 percent of the emergency room visits are private vehicles, Ronayne said.

The City Council is considering plans to either add a roundabout at the intersection of Church and Myrtle streets or keep the traffic light but add turning lanes and turning arrows.

A public information meeting Wednesday evening drew about 20 people, and most of those who spoke favored keeping the traffic signal.

“I like roundabouts. I like them in Maryland; I like them in Europe; I like them in Vermont,” said resident Lou Schneider. “I am opposed to a roundabout here.”

The total estimated cost for the project with a traffic light is $1.4 million, and with a roundabout it is $2 million. That includes the traffic portion, of which the city will pay 5 percent, and a water line upgrade that the city will foot completely, Godlewski said.

Either way, Church Street would be repaved between Outlook Avenue and Van Rensselaer Street, a center turn lane on Church Street east of Myrtle would help people turning into and out of their driveways and sidewalks would be added along Myrtle Street. Reconstruction is set for the spring, summer and fall of next year.

Unlike two-lane roundabouts in Malta, the roundabout considered for Saratoga Springs would have just one lane, and it would be about the same size as the roundabout in downtown Glens Falls, Godlewski said.

Currently, traffic backs up at the traffic light in both directions on Church Street, and motorists turning left wait while traffic drives around them on the shoulder.

Research shows traffic accidents at roundabouts are fewer and less serious than the head-on and broadside collisions that happen at traditional intersections because people are usually driving slowly to navigate the circle rather than speeding to beat a changing light, Godlewski said.

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