The Malta Town Board on Thursday approved emergency plans to barricade one end of Hermes Road to reduce through-traffic between the Luther Forest housing development and GlobalFoundries.
The barrier at the Stonebreak and Hermes roads roundabout will be temporary, in place for two or three months while Stonebreak Road west of the roundabout is closed for construction of another roundabout.
But board members also hope their measure will help address a larger problem with increased traffic on Dunning Street, the main road through the huge Luther Forest housing development.
Dunning Street, together with Hermes Road, is a potential shortcut to GlobalFoundries and the Luther Forest Technology Campus, but the town has consistently tried to discourage that.
“We need to shift traffic back to where it was intended to be,” said Town Board member Peter Klotz before the board unanimously approved the barrier plan.
The barrier, which could be in place by late next week, would be the concrete kind already seen at the technology campus, in which two cement construction barriers are set across the road at staggered intervals, discouraging motorists but allowing them to weave between them. At least initially, someone will be stationed at the barricade to explain alternatives to drivers.
Town Supervisor Paul Sausville said the details will be left to engineers and the town Highway Department.
The issue is coming to a head now because a major change is about to occur in how people reach GlobalFoundries and the technology campus.
Until now, Stonebreak Road off Route 9 has been the designated primary entrance for tech campus traffic, though a significant number of people have been using Dunning Street and Hermes Road.
But early next week, the new main entrance to the tech campus will open on Route 67 near Round Lake. Shortly afterward, Stonebreak Road will be closed so a second main campus entrance roundabout, at Route 9 and Stonebreak, can be built.
The town’s concern is that people coming from Saratoga Springs and points north won’t be willing to drive the additional two miles south to the Route 67 entrance but will use Dunning Street instead.
Residents of the Dunning Street area have been complaining for months about increased traffic from GlobalFoundries, and Town Attorney Tom Peterson described the situation at times as “gridlock.”
That could worsen, he said, and justifies the Town Board’s action.
“This is in anticipation of an emergency. Once Stonebreak is closed, it will radically change traffic patterns,” Peterson said.
The town anticipates cooperation from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which owns Hermes Road. Hermes is the main access to NYSERDA’s Saratoga Technology and Energy Park, which lies between the housing development and GlobalFoundries.
NYSERDA officials attended Thursday’s board meeting and initially took no position on the barrier, but they they said will accept the vote.
“We will work with the town and try to resolve it cooperatively,” said NYSERDA spokesman Alan Wechsler.
The GlobalFoundries computer chip plant is hiring new employees rapidly, and more traffic on local roads is inevitable as the STEP and Luther Forest technology parks develop, said GlobalFoundries director of government relations Mike Russo.
“What want is to be sure we understand what the town is doing, what the town has to do, so we can communicate that to our employees,” Russo said.
GlobalFoundries currently has 621 employees working at its plant, he said, and could have 300 more within the next three months.
Town officials said the zoning approval granted for the technology campus in 2004 includes assurances to local residents that there would be no traffic impacts on Dunning Street.