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Bethlehem to become site of two studies

Roundabout lighting and land conservancy groups to work in town

The Town of Bethlehem is to be the site of two studies that may have wider implications for the surrounding area and entire state.

The Department of Transportation, along with NYSERDA and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Lighting Research Center, plan to make the roundabout at the intersection of Route 140 and New Scotland Avenue the site for tests on lighting and landscaping.

Testing would occur in the springtime, and would involve two one-night tests of new lighting systems to replace or complement the yellowy sodium lamps and various landscaping for the middle of the roundabout. That would be followed by a one-week test later on incorporating what the tests show works best.

The need for a new approach to roundabout lighting came out of a recent study by the Lighting Research Center, said RPI's John Bullough at a recent Town Board meeting.

Roundabouts emerged as one specific type of road that might benefit from different kinds of lighting and vegetation, he said.

The DOT has been inserting roundabouts into more and more locations statewide, and says they are more efficient and safer than signaled intersections. Bethlehem has been on the forefront of the adoption, and the DOT's Mark Kennedy said the New Scotland Avenue four-way intersection is optimal for providing data that could be used elsewhere.

"The Department of Transportation feels any information it might get from a study at this location would have a greater benefit," he said.

Among the lighting methods that will likely be researched is installing lighting at the street level to illuminate pedestrian walkways. Landscaping in the center of the roundabout could also be lighted, which would help reduce glare from car lights across the way and help motorists navigate the circle. Any changes would be temporary.

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