The town of Malta will ask that the speed limit be reduced to 30 mph on Round Lake Road, where a pending reconstruction project may add two new roundabouts.
Town Supervisor Paul J. Sausville said the idea of lowering the speed limit grew out of the town’s discussions about controversial plans to build roundabouts at Raylinsky-Ruhle roads and at Chango Drive.
The Town Board on Monday will consider a resolution asking the state Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit. DOT must approve any speed limit changes.
Many local residents contend the roundabouts, because they won’t bring traffic to a halt, will create unsafe conditions for pedestrians trying to cross the road — but one vocal opponent of the roundabouts said he supports lowering the speed limit.
“I think it’s a grand idea,” said Elwood Sloat, a retired state police major who lives in the neighborhood.
Round Lake Road currently has a 45 mph speed limit from the Ballston town line to roughly the front of Malta Mall, where the limit drops to 40 mph as housing and commercial development becomes more dense near Northway Exit 11.
There’s a Hannaford supermarket and elementary school in the area, both of which residents say are walking destinations that may lead pedestrians to cross the road.
Towns request speed-limit reductions fairly often but they are generally turned down by DOT. Sloat said he was skeptical Malta’s request would be approved.
The goal of the $6 million Round Lake Road reconstruction project is to “calm” traffic and make the road safer as traffic volume grows in coming years because of development in the town of Ballston. The rebuilt road would include space for bicycles, and also sidewalks.
Despite the objections of some residents, the town’s engineering consultants and the Town Board have concluded roundabouts are the safest way to improve the two intersections.
Also Monday, the Town Board is scheduled to declare that the project will have no negative impacts on the environment.
Whether roundabouts or improved traffic light intersections are built, the project is an “unlisted” action under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act, said Steve Godlewski, an engineer with Creighton Manning Engineers of Albany, the town’s project engineers.
Sausville said he thinks the project’s environmental impact will be positive. “We wouldn’t take action unless we thought there was a positive impact on the community in the long run,” he said.
Opponents, however, continue to disagree.
“We have 500 people saying there’s an adverse effect,” said Sloat, citing the number of people who have signed an anti-roundabout petition. “All these people are wrong?”
A $5 million federal grant is paying for reconstruction. Work is expected to start this year.