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What you need to know for 07/22/2017

Residents voice opposition to Malta roundabout plans

Residents voice opposition to Malta roundabout plans

More than 80 people turned out for a public hearing Monday on proposed roundabouts on Round Lake Roa

More than 80 people turned out for a public hearing Monday on proposed roundabouts on Round Lake Road, the vast majority of them opposed.

Fifteen of the 16 speakers at the 45-minute hearing said they oppose roundabouts being built at intersections with Raylinsky-Ruhle roads and Chango Drive to help the area handle growing traffic.

"My feeling is roundabouts are not safe at any speed for pedestrians," said Tim Downey of Miller Road.

The town, however, plans to continue pushing forward with the $6 million plan, said Town Supervisor Paul Sausville. "We made the decision to proceed Dec. 30, and we'll continue on the path forward," Sausville said after the hearing.

The Town Board voted Dec. 30 to follow the recommendation of its engineering consultants and declare roundabouts the "preferred alternative" over installing or upgrading traffic lights at the intersections, which have been under study for three years. The area just west of Northway Exit 11 is seeking traffic growth because of new development.

Many residents in the housing developments off Round Lake Road say the road is walked by children, senior citizens, and other pedestrians, and the fact that traffic doesn't completely stop at roundabouts makes them more dangerous for pedestrians to cross.

The engineering consultants, however, said roundabouts significantly reduce the severity of accidents involving vehicles, and are designed with mid-road islands for pedestrian use.

"With roundabouts, one of the biggest improvements is (pedestrians) only have to cross one lane at a time," said Kristie DiCocco, a project engineer with Creighton Manning Engineering of Albany.

The public hearing was actually on whether the town should take pieces of seven private properties by eminent domain, though most speakers spoke more generally against roundabouts.

Two members of the Eitzmann family, which owns the only residential property that may lose some land, spoke against the project.

New traffic lights are "the overwhelming community preference," said property owner Murray Eitzmann.

Creighton Manning, however, says traffic light intersections risk right-angle collisions, the kind that cause the most serious injuries for people in moving vehicles.

The town will take written comments until March 13 before the Town Board makes any decisions on the use of eminent domain. Either lights or roundabouts potentially require use of eminent domain, though the roundabouts would require taking more property than traffic lights would.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 885-6705 or swilliams@dailygazette.net.

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