CLIFTON PARK -- The state Department of Transportation will begin construction work on a roundabout at the intersection of Vischer Ferry Road and routes 146 and 146A this week, according to the DOT and local officials.
The planned roundabout is expected to mitigate traffic congestion and accidents at the intersection.
The intersection has been acknowledged as a treacherous spot in town for years.
Designated as a “high accident” location by the DOT since 1997, a traffic study was done to determine ways to slow traffic, prevent accidents and decrease driving delays during busy traffic times.
The DOT studied the intersection between January 2013 and June 2016, during which time 103 accidents occurred, 20 resulting in injuries. The rate of crashes per million vehicle miles was about seven, which is above the statewide average of around four, according to the DOT.
Estimated to cost approximately $3.9 million, the roundabout is meant to ease the heavy traffic flow in the area by creating a more free-flowing pattern, as well as cut congestion, wait and commute times.
“The Town of Clifton Park has worked cooperatively with NYSDOT to produce the best possible project that will enhance traffic flow, improve pedestrian access and add impressive aesthetically pleasing features. The major construction work and bulk of the traffic delays will commence after Shen schools has begun summer break. Therefore, the traffic in this corridor will be reduced significantly during construction until the new school year begins in September,” Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said in a press release.
Preliminary work is planned to begin this week with minimal impact to traffic, according to the DOT. Substantial work is expected to begin on July 8.
During construction, DOT will convert two slip ramps from Route 146 to Route 146A into travel lanes, allowing westbound motorists to travel around the center of the intersection, where much of the roundabout will be built without direct impact to traffic.
Eastbound traffic will primarily use the current alignment during that phase of the work.
Two weekend closures of the intersection are planned to occur during the summer. Those will be announced in advance and detours will be posted. Some night work is also anticipated.
Existing sidewalks and crosswalks will remain accessible during construction.
The work zone speed limit will be 35 miles per hour, down from the 45 miles per hour usually posted.
The roundabout is expected to be open to traffic this fall, and the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
The intersection sees an average of 33,500 vehicles per day, according to DOT. It connects the eastern and western ends of town along Route 146. The primary entrance to the Shenendehowa School District campus is about a half-mile to the east.
The roundabout project has gone through a highly public design process prior to reaching its final design.
The design incorporates details that stem from concerns raised during the project's public comment period. Those details include a new multi-use path along eastbound Route 146 that will connect to two existing multi-use paths, and an improvement of the intersection’s drainage system.
In addition, high-visibility signage, including rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, will be installed in the roundabout to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians and cyclists. Crosswalks will also be installed.
DOT will also add a flagpole, bike rack, trash receptacles and a handful of benches for a seating area inside of the roundabout.