NYSDOT Studies Route 12B Improvements in Hamilton, Targets Village Intersection


Rio Lacey, Staff Writer

Representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) visited Colgate University on Wednesday, April 26, to gauge community input for a new construction project in Hamilton that would restructure traffic along Route 12B in the village center. The two NYSDOT staff members in attendance — Heather Tehan, the public information officer at NYSDOT, and Stefan Widomski, professional engineer 1 and project team Leader at NYSDOT — answered questions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the O’Connor Campus Center (the Coop).

According to Tehan, the State Route 12B Pavement Reconstruction is currently in the scoping phase, which means that officials are still assessing the opinions of stakeholders in the community like Colgate University students and faculty. 

“It’s not just going to be a paving of the top layer, it’s going to be a total reconstruction,” Tehan said. “That’s why we’re trying to get some input from the residents right now.” 

According to handouts from the NYSDOT, the project will move into its preliminary design phase within the next month, where the team will be evaluating community input to develop alternatives for Route 12B’s current layout. Following additional community forums this summer, the NYSDOT will move the project into the approval phase, where they will submit their preferred alternative plan and receive feedback from the state. One year from now, they plan to adjust their finalized project design and begin the bidding process so that construction can begin as scheduled in late Spring 2025. The NYSDOT has already approved $14.0 million in funding for construction.

One of the most developed alternatives thus far includes a roundabout, which would either be put into the 5-way village intersection or at the crossing of Route 12B and Eaton Street. 

“As part of our policy, anytime we do a reconstruction project where we’re looking at an intersection, we have to consider whether or not it’s a good fit for a roundabout,” Tehan said. “Everywhere that we see [roundabouts], the flow of traffic is better, and it’s also a greener alternative because you’re not stopping a car to wait for a light.”

The NYSDOT hopes that this alternative would make village traffic safer for pedestrians and cars since the rate of accidents on Route 12B exceeds twice the national average. Widomski elaborated that even just one roundabout would likely affect the traffic of the whole village based on comments that they received from community forums on March 28. 

“What we do at one [intersection] will help shed some clarity on the other,” Widomski said. “It all flows together, so we’re trying to find what people are satisfied with and represent those opinions in our alternatives.” 

Village Trustee and Associate Director of the Upstate Institute Julie Dudrick expressed excitement about the project and its potential impacts on the community of Hamilton.

“The reconstruction project is exciting because it will reshape the main artery in our community and increase access and safety for those who live here and those who visit,” Dudrick said. “It also represents a significant investment in the village and will be just the first of many economic revitalization projects that will enhance quality of life for all of us.”

Among Colgate students visiting the NYSDOT table was second-year student Cullen Williams, who indicated his interest in learning more about the construction process.

“Roundabouts are proven to be much safer so it could be a good option for the village,” Williams said. “The only thing I was concerned about was how a roundabout would fit in that intersection since it would have to be a perfect circle.” 

Tehan noted that many students had voiced similar concerns about the structural viability of a roundabout. Widomski and Tehan said that out of the approximately 17 groups who shared their comments on Wednesday, about half voiced support for a roundabout, and the rest had concerns about spacing.

“A roundabout can fit there, but the question is whether or not it’s feasible,” Widomski said. “Since [12B] is against the village green, our design is not just geometry based—we have certain regulations and laws we have to follow about what we can and can’t do in that 5-legged intersection.”

Widomski also mentioned that the 12B project will likely be complicated by Colgate’s Third Century Plan improvements, which include a Broad Street development project. Due to the overlap of these projects, the NYSDOT is thoroughly assessing all possible ideas for improvements on Route 12B. 

“The DOT is doing a great job of consulting with the village, Colgate and the local business community to make sure the final design reflects many voices,” Dudrick said. 

Tehan noted that the variety of comments they received from students will be helpful as they continue into the design process. For example, several students who live on Broad Street told Tehan and Widomski that they cross traffic on Route 12B daily because it saves them time coming from Willow Path on their way home. It is unclear whether the NYSDOT will attempt to solve this problem between College Street and West Kendrick Avenue, but Tehan expressed satisfaction with the abundance of student opinions. 

“We’re welcoming any and all comments, the sooner the better,” Tehan said. “If people have thoughts, this is the time to tell us what they want.”

Comments can be submitted by emailing Tehan at [email protected] or Widomski at [email protected]. The NYSDOT also hopes that students and faculty will engage with details or submit comments on their website, which will be updated with new information.