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What you need to know for 08/20/2017

Rexford Bridge could get roundabout

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Rexford Bridge could get roundabout

Plans for a roundabout near the Rexford Bridge have come full-circle.

Plans for a roundabout near the Rexford Bridge have come full-circle.

Officials with the state Department of Transportation are again considering one for the troubled intersection of Route 146 and Aqueduct Road as they contemplate what to do with the aging structure across the Mohawk River.

Spokesman Bryan Viggiani said the discussion about the intersection is still preliminary, but one option would be to build a roundabout to help reduce some of the traffic problems that bedevil the heavily traveled approach to Saratoga County.

“A roundabout is something we’d consider,” he said Friday.

Discussion of a roundabout at the bridge is nothing new. In fact, the state had considered placing roundabouts on each side of the bridge in 2007 to help curtail some of the traffic snarls in that area.

Constructed in 1965, the two-lane bridge saw an average of 21,230 vehicles per day from January 2010 to February 2013. Talks about the improvements started as long ago as the 1980s, when development north of the Mohawk burgeoned.

Traffic heading to and from the Knolls Atomic Power Lab, SI Group headquarters and the General Electric Global Research Center choke Route 146 — also known as Balltown Road — during rush hour. Adding to this traffic load are commuters heading back to southern Saratoga County from jobs in downtown Schenectady.

But while a roundabout installation would be fairly simple north of the Mohawk, building one on the southern bank is more problematic. Aqueduct Road’s intersection with Balltown is oddly aligned and close to the bridge, leaving little space for the traffic device.

Viggiani said the state is now formulating a plan to address the inadequate bridge, which would make the time right to plan an improvement such as a roundabout. He stressed, however, that a bridge overhaul — perhaps even a replacement — doesn’t have funding and isn’t in the agency’s immediate future.

“We’re a ways off simply because funding hasn’t been identified,” he said. “But we want to have something designed and ready for when funding is available.”

Viggiani said building two roundabouts is possible, but not likely at this point. He said the most likely spot of a roundabout would be on the Niskayuna side of the bridge.

The agency is planning to host public hearings about the bridge and Route 146 early next year. There’s no immediate timetable for either project, but state Sen. Hugh Farley is hoping at least one of the fixes will happen a lot sooner than later.

“It’s kind of a high priority because that’s a terrific traffic jam,” the Niskayuna Republican said.

Farley said he’s spoken to the transportation department’s regional director to impress upon him the many issues with the area around the Mohawk crossing. And he’s hoping if the bridge won’t be replaced in short order, the agency will consider at least adding a roundabout.

The state just wrapped up an $11.7 million reconstruction project that helped dramatically improve the flow of traffic on Glenridge Road in Glenville — something Farley had lobbied to have done for years. Now he’s hoping the agency will take care of the other area his constituents have frequently complained about.

“I’ll be pushing for the bridge,” he said. “But I think the roundabout is imminent.”

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