The dangerous dance of cars that traverse through Glenmont’s Babcock Corners may soon come to an end should a proposed traffic circle be approved. (Photo by Michael Hallisey/Spotlight News)
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BETHLEHEM — At tonight’s Town Board meeting, members are expected to approve several items related to an intersection and sidewalk project at Route 9W, Feura Bush Road and Glenmont Road.
In late 2016, the town applied for federally-funded Transportation Enhancement Program dollars from the New York state Department of Transportation to cover the costs of installing a pedestrian friendly roundabout at the aforementioned intersection and completing sidewalks between Glenmont Elementary School and the intersection of Vagel Lane and Glenmont Road. The town was able to secure a little more than three fourths of the expected $4.845 million project cost, or $3.876 million. The remaining cost, approximately $969,000, will be financed through a bond.
Since federal aid funding of transportation projects requires the town to secure funding for the total amount of the project, the town may be required to finance the entire amount short term. As a result, officials have already prepared a resolution to that effect—one of four related items the board will consider.
The town’s Department of Public Works Engineering Division, along with the Department of Economic Development and Planning, has recommended that the board approve the following:
• A resolution establishing the Town Board as lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and approving negative declaration regarding significant environmental effects;
• A bond resolution for the full $4.845 million, pursuant to permissive referendum;
• A resolution authorizing the implementation and funding of design services (provided by Creighton Manning); and
• A resolution approving the project generally, and authorizing Supervisor David VanLuven to execute any necessary agreements with NYSDOT.
According to NYSDOT, roundabout intersections are safer and more efficient than traditional intersections—and are becoming increasingly common in New York state.
“Communities across New York State have benefited from the construction of roundabouts, which improve intersection safety and reduce vehicle emissions including carbon dioxide,” said New York state Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas. “As with all our transportation improvement projects, roundabouts support Governor Cuomo’s effort to boost local economies by providing quick, convenient access to area businesses.”
A roundabout is a circular intersection without traffic signals, which is engineered to maximize safety and minimize congestion. Traffic travels counterclockwise with ramps for incoming traffic to yield.
“[That intersection] was judged to be a serious problem in 2010,” said former Supervisor John Clarkson in April of last year, when the federal funding was announced.
According to documents, a residential survey regarding town improvement priorities conducted all the way back in 2008 indicated that 36 percent of respondents considered construction of a roundabout at that intersection to be a high priority at the time.
“And, it has just gotten worse,” said Clarkson.
According to NYSDOT, roundabouts see a decrease in the severity of crashes, which typically occur at a slow speed and include side swipes and fender-benders, and significantly reduce the chance of deadly head-on or T-bone crashes.
Traffic also flows more freely through roundabouts than at traditional intersections, say state officials, cutting congestion and commute time, and reduced vehicle idling time results in reduced fuel emissions and improved air quality. Roundabouts also eliminate the need for electricity-powered traffic signals.
Bicyclists are permitted to ride within the roundabout and should follow the flow of traffic, riding in the middle of the lane to prevent being passed or cut off, and using hand turning signals. If bicyclists choose not to ride in the roundabout, NYSDOT recommends dismounting and proceeding as a pedestrian walking their bicycle.
Walkers, runners, and dismounted bikers should always to look before crossing
and only cross one direction of traffic at a time. Never cross to the center island.
NYSDOT reminds drivers:
• Watch traffic signs and pavement markings to determine the correct lane to be in before entering the roundabout. Once inside the roundabout, do not change lanes.
• Use the left lane to make left turns and use the right lane to make right turns. Follow signs and markings to determine which lane(s) go straight.
• Traffic in the roundabout has the right-of-way.
• Vehicles wishing to enter should yield at the yield line and look for oncoming traffic on their left.
• Enter the roundabout when there is an adequate gap in the circulating traffic flow.
• Always yield to pedestrians and keep crosswalks clear.
• Cars and trucks should yield to bicycle traffic and not pass them.
• As you approach your exit, turn on your right turn signal.
The Town Board meets tonight, Wednesday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at Bethlehem Town Hall, 445 Delaware Avenue in Delmar.