#Editorial #OurVoice #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
School’s out across the county, but that didn’t stop a few score of residents from collecting in Glenmont Elementary to share concerns over the intersection at the old Babcock Corners.
Of course, it’s been a generation or two since it’s been called that. Most people refer to it as the intersection of Route 9W and Feura Bush Road. Sometimes, you may have someone correctly throw mention of Glenmont Road in there, too. Anyone who travels through it may be more inclined to call it a headache above all else. The old name originates from the family farm that once sat where people now buy shoes, liquor and assortment of items for a dollar. It’s been nearly half a century since that land resembled a farm.
In that time, the whole of Bethlehem has gone through considerable change. Out with the farms and in with residential developments that have caused its population to nearly double since 1960. One needs only to walk down Feura Bush Road to witness this boom. Shopping malls, apartments and homes dot the landscape. Expansive developments branch off from there, adding motorists to our roads. It wasn’t too long ago that there was no sidewalk to walk upon on that stretch. Pedestrians straddled the narrow shoulder, and thanked generous motorists who nudged the yellow line to yield a more comfortable distance.
The old days are gone.
It’s been more than 10 years since the Route 9W corridor has been identified as a focus area in need of change. Developments and big box stores have emerged, adding local and visiting traffic to our roads. What was once an intersection we were once able to manage while waiting for a few passing cars, has turned into a more panicked situation for those looking to turn left at any given moment. Keep in mind, these roads were first developed decades before as “turnpikes” to connect Albany to distant communities. They were the early day highways before such a term was coined in the ‘50s. Our traffic woes only bring this fact to light once again as we weigh in on our options to remedy this.
There is no quick fix, people have to come to terms with the eventual need for a roundabout. Though there should always be a concern for pedestrian safety. This area of town, as more residential developments are built and proposed, will continue to be a home. But, the crux of the issue centers around the throng of motorists who travel through town each day. And, it’s only bound to get worse if not abated.
The roundabouts along Route 85 in Slingerlands and North Bethlehem have done a tremendous amount of good to relieve the rush hour congestion that once choked it years ago. The perceived challenge of driving through one is often due to the shortcomings of a few individual drivers who fail to pay attention or should learn the right of way. The safety of these traffic circles has been proven worldwide, and should not be ignored. As this town continues to grow, there are other corners of our neighborhood that could benefit, but that may prove an even tougher conversation than this.
We see the intersection of Kenwood and Cherry avenues in Slingerlands, and how rush hour traffic from New Scotland stagnates at that traffic light. The bridge and surrounding homes that abut those roads would make it near impossible to add a roundabout there without evasive measures.
This intersection, with it’s odd angles and blind spots, can and should be replaced with a roundabout.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.