The 200 Malta residents who’ve signed a petition opposing the plan to build a pair of new traffic roundabouts on Round Lake Road certainly have some experience with this traffic management strategy. They’ve been dealing with roundabouts in growing numbers for the last six years, and the town now has a record 13 of them in use. Clearly, 200 people is nothing to sneeze at, but town officials still need to keep their opposition in perspective when the decision on how to improve traffic flow on the increasingly busy road from Ballston is made.
Despite their widespread use in Malta, roundabouts are still fairly new-fangled in this region, and some motorists still freeze up when they encounter them. But on balance, it seems they have been more successful in keeping traffic from backing up at busy intersections, and statistics confirm that they have resulted in fewer personal injury accidents than traffic lights.
Undoubtedly this is why a study prepared for the town earlier this year by two separate engineering firms, The Chazen Group and Creighton-Manning, declared roundabouts the “preferred alternative” for those intersections, which are crossed by 7,000 to 13,000 cars every day.
Using red lights would probably involve widening the road and adding turn lanes, so it would probably not have any cost advantage. But with the federal government likely to pick up 80 percent of the anticipated $4.75 million cost, cost isn’t really the issue; safety and convenience are.
This page was initially opposed to the proliferation of roundabouts in Malta, especially the five constructed within a mile of each other on Route 67. But the significant reduction in accidents and injuries experienced in just the first 10 months of operation in 2007, plus the noticeably smoother traffic flow, convinced us we had been wrong.
Before the Town Board decides to ignore the anecdotal evidence, not to mention the advice of its engineers, its members should attempt to query other residents. Better yet, the “silent majority” — if that is indeed what they are — should come to the Nov. 5 Town Board meeting and make their feelings known.