By Kristin Schultz
It was deja vu all over again at the March 21 Niskayuna Town Board meeting as residents Mike Cassella and John DelSignore each took to the podium during the public comment portion of the regular meeting to again report speeding concerns and weight violations by their homes on Rosendale Road.
“I came here three months ago with a letter and petition about traffic concerns,” said Cassella. “Since then the police did a study and issued 15 tickets. I respect and appreciate that but the situation has not been mitigated.”
Deputy Police Chief Michael Stevens confirmed that the town conducted a two-week study of the area at the end of Rosendale Road in the southeast part of Niskayuna. The study showed increased volume and speed. During the study, officers wrote 15 citations, mostly for driving in excess of the speed limit.
“Rosendale Road has been a problem in the past,” said Stevens. “The study showed that there was a high volume of traffic and while there wasn’t excessive speeding, there was more than we like to see.”
As a result, the department’s sergeants were advised to concentrate on Rosendale.
“We’re out there,” said Stevens.
DelSignore acknowledged that not much could be done about the volume of traffic, but suggested more pedestrian-friendly traffic-calming measures such as sidewalks and crosswalks.
“It’s like taking your life into your own hands trying to cross the street down there,” he said referring to the area around Lions Park.
Police have conducted studies on many Niskayuna roads, including at the other end of Rosendale using a radar device that temporarily attaches to trees or poles and records traffic volume and speed.
“The town has changed over the last 20 years,” said Stevens. “There has been more commercial and residential development. That development is good for the community, it can be good for taxes but it increases traffic.”
Stevens went on to point to specific side streets that are serving as alternate routes. As traffic increases, thoroughfares like Balltown Road become crowded during rush hour, causing the flow of traffic to slow to a crawl or seem to stop altogether.
To avoid Balltown Road, officials have found that Regent Street is a popular alternate route.
“It runs parallel to Balltown Road all the way from Union to Nott,” said Stevens.
Drivers trying to maneuver from the businesses on Union Street to the Shop Rite Plaza can bypass the vehicular headache on Balltown Road via Regent Street.
Rosendale Road serves as a similar bypass for commuters heading to work at the Knolls Atomic Power Lab and the GE Global Research facility who do not want to take Highway 7.
Rosendale Road belongs to Schenectady County, which is responsible for the road’s maintenance and upkeep. Joe McQueen, Schenectady County spokesman, said that because Niskayuna has its own police force, the town is responsible for setting, posting and enforcing speed limits.
Any changes in signage, therefore, would be determined by town authorities, not the county.
Speeding was not Cassella’s only concern. Currently there is a 6-ton weight restriction on Rosendale Road. At that weight level, most commercial trucks should not drive the route, yet Cassella reports that the restriction is violated multiple times per day as large trucks drive the mainly residential area.
The recent traffic study did not look at nor enforce commercial traffic laws. Stevens says the department does not have the manpower to have a commercial enforcement unit and suggested that the state highway patrol would be the proper agency to enforce laws and cite commercial drivers.
Cassella and DelSignore’s concerns will likely go before the Police and Public Safety committee in April.