I urge the stoppage of the planned roundabout construction in Glenmont reported on in the Nov. 20 Spotlight edition. I do so for two reasons: it will be difficult to impossible for pedestrians to cross the street to the many stores and facilities at this location and because the perceived traffic problem can be addressed by less costly left hand turning lanes.
The public pronouncement of the need for this costly construction project is two fold: speed up delays in traffic and prevent accidents by turning vehicles. Both are misleading at best and not sufficient justification for this expensive project.
The pedestrians crossing Route 9W and Glenmont and Feura Bush Road are varied and numerous. Conditions at this location are not the same as the roundabout in Slingerlands on New Scotland Road. where there are few, if any, pedestrians. People of all ages and abilities cross these roads facilitated by the sidewalks on Feura Bush Road. I often see people with babies in carriages or strollers crossing. Children on bikes frequent this location. People walk to the various stores all year long even in winter. I think there are people who walk to the Price Chopper mall to get the CDTA No. 7 bus into Albany as an alternative to driving. Pedestrian safety is paramount over a small reduction in motorist commute time.
The current presence of a full traffic light enables people with various abilities and disabilities to safely cross this intersection. There is at least one group home, located on Feura Bush Road. There may be more in the future.
I fear that the planned flashing red lights will not stop motorists encountering pedestrians especially those motorists who are in the process of increasing vehicle speed while exiting the roundabout.
Four of the six planned cross-walks are located where vehicles are exiting the roundabout and increasing speed. When motorists do stop for pedestrians, there is a risk of the vehicle getting rear ended.
The public presentation of the designs noted that the delay will be shortened only at the Feura Bush intersection and did not address total commute time. The shorting of time is estimated to be 30 seconds. We are spending $5 million for 30 seconds.
Due to the several traffic lights between this intersection and the intersection of 9W and Corning Hill Road, this single roundabout will not meaningfully shorten the commute time, especially during the rush hours.
Although the public presentations refer to a reduction in current right-angle and head-on crashes, it lacked the exact numbers of such accidents, the time of day that the reputed accidents occurred, the underlying causes, their frequency and a comparison to other heavily trafficked areas.
Perhaps eliminating the right turn permitted by both the traffic lights and the right on red allowance will significantly reduce these accidents without road modifications. This alternative does not seem to have been pursued.
There are alternatives that do not seem to have been explored. The simplest is construction of traffic light controlled left hand turning lanes. Pedestrian bridges over the roads is a another alternative. This used to be very common. A ramp bridge over the roads could easily be built and would not interfere with the roundabout. Design would require a gentle ramp to accommodate wheel chairs. Yes, I have seen people cross these streets while in motorized wheelchairs or similar devices.
The current motorist backup is not a day long problem but rather presents itself for about two hours a day, the morning and evening commute times.
The plan calls for spending almost $5 million from various sourced grants. This may increase due to increased costs either unexpected or inflation.
The town has more important priorities such as the extension of sewers, and preservation of open space.
We should be doing things that encourage the reduction in carbon emissions.
We should be working with CDTA to extend the bus routes further on 9W to encourage greater use of public transportation.
The irony of slowing down Delaware Avenue, the other major road construction planned, for the benefit of bicyclists, and speeding up 9W to the determent of pedestrians is not lost on the voters.
Alan A. Pfeffer