Proposed Holiday Inn Express in Malta raises traffic concerns

MALTA Saratoga County planners on Thursday said they are concerned about traffic issues that could be created by plans for a Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express at the northeast corner of Northway Exit 12.

The proposed 96-room hotel would have its entrance uncomfortably close to the exit s eastern roundabout, according to what planners said during a meeting in Ballston Spa.

It may be that the hotel is too intense a use for what can be done on that site, said Ed Vopelak, a professional engineer who is a member of the county Planning Board. While the location had a gasoline station at one time, it has been vacant since the 1980s, due in part to the amount of wetlands on the 8 1/2-acre site. The hotel would be located in Malta s downtown zoning, meaning that it could be approved by the Malta Planning Department s staff unless the town or county planning boards raise significant concerns.

Under the proposal by developer Nimit Patel, vehicles leaving the hotel could only make right-hand turns onto state Route 67 because of the area s heavy traffic. Those exiting would immediately enter a two-lane roundabout that would require them to make a quick decision about which lane they wanted to be in, said county senior planner Michael Valentine. Eastbound drivers who want to enter the hotel property will need to continue east to the roundabout at Kelch Drive, then double-back on Route 67 to reach the hotel entrance, Valentine said.

The final decision on whether to allow the entrance so close to Exit 12 will be up to the state Department of Transportation, which has been consulted but hasn t made a decision.

DOT is not going to issue an unsafe curb cut, said county Planning Board Chairman Tom Lewis. One alternative suggested by county planners would be to create a second entrance on Kelch Drive but Kelch Drive, which is now a dead-end, is expected to see a lot more traffic due to a hotel and apartment complex being proposed on land just to the north. Malta s downtown has been growing rapidly as the town evolves in the wake of the arrival of the $12 billion GlobalFoundries semiconductor plant.

The new commercial areas lie between the Northway and GlobalFoundries, where nearly 3,000 people work. Across Route 67, the Malta Commons Business Park is in the process of being redeveloped with new restaurants, hotels, and other retail uses. Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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