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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Won't need to be a chicken crossing the road at Circular Street and Park Place

I’ve been a chicken when it comes to crossing the road, because to get to the other side of Circular Street at Park Place and Congress Park, you take your life in your hands.
Driving left out of Park Place onto Circular is no picnic, either.
So I my interest was piqued this morning when the headline across the front page of the print edition of The Saratogian was, “City to reorient confusing intersection.” The headline on my Saratogian iPad app was even more explicit, as an online headline should be: “SeeClickFix Series: SaratogaSprings to reorient intersection of Circular Street, Whitney Place and ParkPlace.”
That is an intersection I traverse daily.
It’s misnamed as a four-way intersection, because the converging streets are too far apart to be considered as such. The four-way stop signs are rarely effective. I’ve been in many a near-miss both behind the wheel and on foot. So I was glad to see someone had finally come up with a way to make it safer and less confusing for both drivers and pedestrians.
Then I read part of the solution, which would be in the 2014 capital budget: Drivers would not be able to turn left out of Park Place onto Circular Street.
Say what?
Hey, that’s the route I take to get to Price Chopper, every week. And the Y, almost every week. And Ballston Spa, every now and again.
A quick call to Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen pretty much alleviated my concerns: A separate traffic project that should be done at the same time includes the installation of a traffic light where Route 50 intersects Lincoln Avenue and little South Street that runs by Price Chopper. We should have included that in the print story, and reporter Lucian McCarty added it to the online version.
The detour is less convenient than being able to take a left out of Park Place to cross Broadway to get to Route 50, but I don’t have a better suggestion for this longstanding problem. The only caveat is that the Park Place change must not take place until the traffic light is up at Route 50 and Lincoln.
As for pedestrian safety, the plan for an on-demand light for crossing Circular Street to and Congress Park and Park Place makes sense. Painted crosswalks simply doesn’t work; drivers here have not been trained to follow the law giving pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks. An on-demand light and having no left out of Park Place will eliminate the need for a stop sign for drivers heading south on Circular. Kudos to Mark Benacquista, the public safety traffic control supervisor, and Mathiesen for coming up with that solution.
The public safety department takes the SeeClickFix feature (at seriously. It’s a cool tool for readers to note problem spot or add to the chorus of cited locations. More than 100 people have indicated on the SeeClickFix feature (at that this Circular/Park Place/ Whitney Place intersection is a problem that needs to be addressed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not just put a stoplight with a long delay at every intersection and outlaw all left turns? It would cause total gridlock everywhere and would make the streets much safer.

June 19, 2013 at 5:55 PM 

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