CLIFTON PARK — The state Department of Transportation plans to begin work on a roundabout at the intersection of Vischer Ferry Road and routes 146 and 146A by July 8, the DOT said. That information was among details provided to the Town Board during an April presentation.
The proposed roundabout will be built by DOT in an effort to mitigate traffic congestion and accidents at the intersection.
The intersection has been acknowledged as a treacherous spot in town for years. Designated as a “high accident” location by the DOT since 1997, a traffic study was done to determine ways to slow traffic, prevent accidents and decrease driving delays during busy traffic times.
The DOT studied the intersection between January 2013 and June 2016, during which time 103 accidents occurred, 20 resulting in injuries. The rate of crashes per million vehicle miles was about seven, which is above the statewide average of around four, according to the DOT.
Construction has been estimated to cost $2.7 million and will use federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds.
During the April meeting, Corey Barringer, the DOT project manager who is serving as the agency’s liaison with the town, gave the Town Board extensive details about the project, such as what pedestrian safety measures will be incorporated into the roundabout, as well as how construction will be managed.
DOT hosted its last public information session in September, during which residents were able to learn about the project’s initial designs, ask questions about and submit comments for consideration.
Barringer said work on the project is scheduled to begin by July 8 and will be complete by the end of the year, though it’s possible it won’t take that long.
During construction traffic will continue to flow through the site and traffic eventually will transition to the roundabout without any road closures, the DOT said.
At no time during construction will the intersection be closed completely, Barringer said. Some construction will most likely be done during evenings or weekends to avoid the heaviest traffic times, he said.
Town Supervisor Phil Barrett cautioned that there are still periods of heavy traffic in that area during some weekend hours.
“Saturday mornings, in particular at the Clifton Common, morning into afternoons, there is a tremendous amount of activity,” he said.
Barringer said that while there will be signage near the park identifying suggested detours to mitigate busy traffic, there won’t be a forced detour away from the intersection.
“We’re trying to communicate with the public as best as possible just so there’s less headaches during construction. We kind of did that to help any out-of towners who are trying to get around it, or even locals who are trying to get around it,” he said.
As opposed to the preliminary design presented to the public last September, the most recent one had solid details attached to it, many of which stemmed from concerns raised during the project’s public comment period. A majority of those concerns, Barringer said, had to do with pedestrian safety in the roundabout.
To mitigate that concern, four crosswalks will be constructed in the roundabout, with sidewalks connecting all of them.
DOT will also add a bike rack, trash receptacles and a handful of benches for a seating area inside of the roundabout.
One other major concern the DOT heard was that on many school days, traffic is backed up for miles down the road and at the intersection coming out of the Shenendehowa Central School District Campus when school starts and ends. Many people, he said, were concerned that the traffic would continue to back up despite the freer flowing traffic pattern created by the roundabout.
“I can’t predict if it’s going to. We would obviously hope not, as a free flow condition, but really the only thing we can do right now is get it built, and see what happens,” Barringer said.