The state DOT’s proposal, called the Route 30/30A Intersection Safety Improvement Project, offers two alternatives to improving safety — a single-lane rural roundabout with an estimated cost of $1.4 million and a traditional T-intersection with a three-color traffic signal and turning lanes for all directions at an estimated cost of $1.3 million.
According to data collected by the state DOT, the 30/30A intersection — which currently has only a flashing signal — “has about 11,600 vehicles per day,” and an above-average traffic accident rate.
“This is a high accident location,” project team leader, Michael Muha said. “The project objective is to improve safety by reducing vehicular conflicts and crashes. This is a safety project and so the number one concern is safety.”
The state DOT’s preferred alternative is a single lane roundabout, which project designer Eric Hitchcock said would have a 130-foot outside diameter and include a 50-foot center island, a 20-foot truck apron, and a 20-foot travel lane, and splitter islands on all approaches.
In addition, the roadway in each direction upon approaching the roundabout would be designed with the intention of slowing cars as they approach the intersection.
“On each entry, the geometry is designed to slow vehicles down when they come into the roundabout. We don’t want [people] accelerating into it. We want them to slow down. So each one of those radiuses is thought out and designed to slow people down,” Muha said.
Hitchcock noted the lower cost and the factor of driver-familiarity of a traditional T-intersection, but stressed the ways in which the safety benefits of a roundabout outweigh those particular detractors.
“The T-intersection would be lower cost. However, in this case, lower cost is negligible for the amount of safety we would be gaining with a roundabout.”
A roundabout intersection, as opposed to a T-intersection, would reduce potential accident contact points from nine to six and would drastically reduce the potential for T-bone accidents, which according to Hitchcock, “are the accidents that have injuries and possible fatalities.”
Hitchcock also noted the safety benefits of decreased speed with a roundabout intersection. Vehicles will approach the roundabout at a speed of roughly 20 mph, and travel through the roundabout between 15 to 20 mph.
“Low speed, low accident severity,” Hitchcock said. “With traffic signal intersections, your speeds will be increased and so too will accident severity.”
Muha said in regards to the time for the project that, pending a fall 2018 approval, a project bid would open in spring 2019, with construction starting in late spring/ early summer of 2019, and a completion of the project by the end of 2019.
To accommodate construction of the redesigned roadway, the team proposed a detour, which would close a segment of Route 30 and would utilize Route 349 to re-route traffic. North and southbound traffic on Route 30A would not be affected by this detour.
“To build this, we’re proposing a detour onto Route 349 for a duration of one to two months to get this built. It’s about a five-mile detour,” Muha said.
Many of the citizens in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting expressed concern about the proposed detour and its potential for causing congestion on local roads. Muha said that while there is no way from preventing traffic — including truckers and other through traffic — from using the local roads, the detour will be clearly marked.
Citizens also expressed concern for safety issues caused by increased traffic on both ends of the Route 349 detour.
“There’s going to be pain-points,” said village of Mayfield Mayor Jamie Ward, who was in attendance at the meeting. “But something needs to be done with that intersection, [and] I think we all agree.”
Those in attendance also expressed interest in using the reconstruction as an opportunity for beautification and marketing.
“‘Welcome to the Adirondacks;’ ‘Welcome to the Great Sacandaga Lake,’ whatever the agreement is from the public, I think it would be an amazing tourism opportunity,” Ward said.