Saratoga County

Exit 9 area study up for review

The bustling corridor off Northway Exit 9 is a maze of crossroads, merging lanes, frequent traffic l
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The bustling corridor off Northway Exit 9 is a maze of crossroads, merging lanes, frequent traffic lights and so many signs that even lifelong residents of Clifton Park and Halfmoon can become confused and overwhelmed.

Located where the towns meet at routes 9 and 146, the area includes a large number of restaurants, grocery stores and malls of all shapes and sizes. The area runs south along Route 9 in Halfmoon and west past Maxwell Drive in Clifton Park. Commercial development started in the corridor about 25 years ago, and most of the prime parcels are developed.

Now, residents are lobbying for some of the more basic amenities: safe pedestrian walkways, trees and landscaping, attractive lighting and a uniform appearance to give the area a distinctive character and identity.

Residents from both towns are invited to share their opinions at a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Clifton Park Senior Center, at the Clifton Common on Vischer Ferry Road.

At the meeting, people will get their first look at the draft of the Exit 9 Land Use and Transportation Study. The $65,000 study, prepared by BFJ Planning of New York, was funded with matching money from both communities and administered through the Capital District Transportation Committee. The 57-page document includes suggestions, maps and photos for bicycle routes, the architectural character of future buildings, improved turning lanes, and discouraging large-scale parking lots in front of businesses.

The draft plan is the result of the first widely attended public workshop held in January to look at everything from existing conditions to future growth. Clifton Park Open Space Coordinator Jennifer Viggiani said she hopes to see a large attendance at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“This area is the economic engine of both communities,” Viggiani said. “It’s a great commercial center, and we want to see it continue to thrive and to keep it viable into the future.”

Also included in the draft study is the possibility of roundabouts, but Viggiani cautioned residents about getting nervous about roundabouts, which are an increasingly common traffic solution.

“At this point they’re only one possibility,” Viggiani said.

“Roundabouts have been brought up as one way to facilitate traffic and, in the future, it will be something we’ll look into, but we need much more information to see if this is the right time and place,” The study includes recommendations for mixed use in the area, including retail, offices and residences, replacing the generic utility pole lighting with ornamental street lights, setting parameters for building heights and roofing materials, and adding park-and-ride locations.

This is the first time both communities have studied the area in tandem; the January meeting was held in Halfmoon.

“It became clear at the first meeting something certainly has to be done in that corridor,” Halfmoon Planning Director Steve Watts said. “We’re trying hard to involve all residents; our job is to listen and we hope most of the people will be satisfied.”

Watts said the report holds both short and long-term solutions to traffic, safety and aesthetics.

“The study document is essentially our wish list, and a lot depends on finances,” Watts said. “We need to start out small and work our way up.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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