#Editorial #Glenmont #Roundabout #Proposal #NYSDOT #Opinion #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
One of the better examples of drawbacks to the pace of economic and residential growth in Bethlehem can be found right at Babcock’s Corners. That’s the intersection where Feura Bush Road meets NYS Route 9W and Glenmont Road, and it is one of the worst for drivers and pedestrians to traverse through.
Longtime residents don’t need to think back too far to recall the ease with which drivers could go to and from Glenmont and South Bethlehem on those roads. Outside of the Kmart and Grand Union that once stood at The Shoppes at Town Squire, there were few points of interest to clog traffic.
That intersection, along with several miles of the Route 9W corridor that stretches south from NYS Route 32 to Beckers Corners, has been the site of incredible development over the past 25 years. The land that was once the Babcock family farm stood vacant until 1990, when another strip mall to rival that of Town Squire was built and helped usher in more housing developments to its south. But, before that time, it was possible for pedestrians to walk along Feura Bush Road to visit Dairy Queen and Grand Union, sans sidewalks, without much threat from motorists.
The state Department of Transportation has taken notice of this growth and the logistics surrounding this troublesome intersection as far back as a dozen years ago, when Bethlehem looked to revisit its Comprehensive Plan. The frequency with which motorists use this intersection has increased along with the same rate of growth as the houses and businesses that call Glenmont and South Bethlehem home. As a result, the accidents that occur have also increased—to the point that it is now one of the most dangerous intersections in town. Even with sidewalks and traffic lights, the prospect of crossing the street is a dangerous endeavor for pedestrians. There are too many motorists who legally turn right on red, and far too many who illegally travel along the turn lane to bypass those turning across traffic.
Though roundabouts often pose a challenge by themselves, this is a part of town that is in need of such a traffic circle. Drivers often complain, in that some motorists don’t know — or don’t care to follow — the rules of the road. The headaches such a scenario may cause, however, do not outweigh the need for public safety. These roundabouts have reduced accident injuries by 75 percent according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, making the decision to construct this roundabout the best direct course for action.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.