MAYFIELD -- The state Department of Transportation began construction of a $1.5 million roundabout at the intersection of state routes 30 and 30A Friday.
The project will transform the conventional intersection into a single lane roundabout — a circular intersection without traffic signals that is designed to slow the flow of traffic with an aim toward maximizing safety while minimizing traffic delay.
Heather Reynicke, who owns the restaurant Sacandaga Scoops a short walk up Route 30A from where the roundabout is being built, said she's not sure why it was needed.
"I'm not sure why they are even putting it in," Reynicke said. "There's not a lot of traffic there. It's not hard to get onto the main road. As far as the project disrupting my business, the locals are still coming. It hasn't affected me, as of yet."
During construction, Route 30 will be closed from its intersection with Route 349 to its intersection with Route 30A. A temporary traffic signal will be installed at the routes 30 and 349 intersection and traffic will be detoured to Route 349 and Route 30A.
Route 30 will be temporarily widened to separate traffic from the highway work zone while the roundabout is being constructed.
DOT workers directed traffic using red flags Friday as the construction began.
"Obviously, I'm concerned I'll lose some customers as the project gets going, but I'm hoping to get some of the workers as customers also," Reynicke said.
In a news release Friday, state DOT officials listed some of the reasons this rural intersection was targeted for a roundabout:
- Routes 30 and 30A are considered important north-south highways, linking the Great Sacandaga Lake and the Adirondack Park in the north to Gloversville, Johnstown and the city of Amsterdam in the south.
- The intersection is at the crossroads of a Regional Bike Route with the Adirondack Trail Scenic byway.
- Traffic flows more freely through roundabouts, reducing traffic build-up and commute times.
- Reduced vehicle idling time means fewer fuel emissions and improved air quality.
- Crashes at roundabouts tend to be less severe because they typically occur at slower speeds.
- Roundabouts also eliminate the need for electricity-powered traffic signals.
The project will also include some pavement widening and upgrades to drainage and signage. Work is scheduled to be completed before the end of the fall.
In the DOT news release both state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Johnstown, expressed support for the project.
“I’m thrilled to see the upgrades to the Route 30 and 30A intersection begin, which will lead to reduced congestion and slower traffic speeds," Smullen stated. "By continuing to upgrade our roadways into the Adirondack Park, we are ensuring that tourists and residents alike will travel safely through our communities."
Mayfield Village Trustee Joseph Garrigan said he thinks the roundabout is a good idea.
"I like it. It slows traffic down. It's a dangerous intersection. This will make people stop before they take off," Garrigan said.
Garrigan said he used to hear a lot of complaints about the construction of roundabouts, but after the roundabout was built in the hamlet of Vails Mills in 2011, he believes Fulton County residents have slowly become more accustomed to them.
"People are used to it now, but at first you had to hear a lot of complaints," he said.
The state DOT has an instructional video it has posted to YouTube.com titled "How to Navigate a Roundabout" to help educate drivers unfamiliar with the concept.