The town has retained two engineering firms to conduct a pre-construction study to determine how to improve the Round Lake Road corridor west of Northway Exit 11.
Creighton Manning Engineering and M.J. Engineering, both of Albany, will be paid up to $580,369 for a detailed evaluation of whether roundabouts or traffic signals should be used at the Raylinsky Road and Chango Drive intersections.
A number of local residents have objected to the idea of roundabouts at those spots, but the Town Board has adopted a plan that lays the groundwork for new roundabouts as the "preferred alternative."
"You don't want to hear what people are saying about roundabouts," resident Tom Spataro told the Town Board this week.
Board members, however, said the engineering evaluation has to look at both alternatives.
"I understand the only way we will get any improvements in that corridor is to go through this process and study all the alternatives," said Councilman Peter Klotz.
The town is looking for ways to address the impact of traffic growth along Round Lake Road, the main access to the Northway for southern Malta and a fast-growing part of the town of Ballston. It also has a growing commercial component, including a Hannaford Supermarket that opened last year at the Malta Mall, and the entire area is expecting to see more traffic as the GlobalFoundries computer chip complex grows.
The town master plan for the corridor includes more than roundabouts, with plans for a full street reconstruction to better accommodate bicycles, pedestrians and other nonmotorized users.
The new study, which could be done this summer, is being paid for mostly with federal dollars. The town has up to $4.75 million in federal money available for Round Lake Road reconstruction, but could lose the money if construction doesn't start by October 2014.
The town has also received another $250,000 in federal Safe Routes to School funding that will pay for sidewalks and crosswalks.
There are plans for the engineering work to be overseen by a town steering committee that will include representatives of the town, the village of Round Lake, police and emergency responders, at least one resident and the Saratoga County Department of Public Works. The county owns the road, and county officials have expressed some concerns about the town's improvement plans.
Residents who oppose the roundabouts say they're concerned in particular about the safety of people looking to cross the road.
Malta already has 13 roundabouts, including five on Route 67 around Northway Exit 12 and three along Route 9.