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Crossing dangers

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QUEENSBURY - It has been five days since Clifton Park resident Stephanie Darwak and her 12-year-old daughter saw a woman get hit by a car and thrown through the air as she crossed Route 9. But they can't get what they saw out of their minds.

"I have vivid images of the accident that I cannot get out of my head and my daughter is still very upset after witnessing the accident," she said.

Darwak was referring to the Thursday afternoon car-pedestrian collision on Route 9 at the intersection of Round Pond Road, in which Margaret Hines, 47, of Glens Falls, was seriously hurt. Hines suffered two broken legs, broken ribs and other injuries and was being treated at Albany Medical Center. Her condition was not available.

Darwak and her daughter had been to the Great Escape amusement park that afternoon, and had parked at Mountainside Auto, where Great Escape customers can pay $5 instead of the $20 parking fee in the Great Escape lots. They were walking to the lot when they saw Hines get hit.

Hines, a Great Escape employee, was crossing from the east side of the road to the west, but Route 9 has no crosswalks. Pedestrian traffic to and from Great Escape is funneled to a pedestrian bridge a quarter-mile or so from where Hines tried to cross.

With the proliferation of less expensive, private parking lots on both sides of the road, a new hotel on the east side of the highway and the rejuvenation of Martha's Dandee Cream because of a change in ownership, the summer has brought more pedestrian traffic to the sidewalks along Route 9.

Those who park in Great Escape lots are funneled to the pedestrian bridge, but those who park elsewhere cross Route 9 whenever they see a break. The speed limit in the area is 45 mph.

"There are people crossing the road all over the place," Darwak said.

Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec said crosswalks would be the responsibility of the state Department of Transportation because Route 9 is a state highway. He said Great Escape's traffic management plan calls for another access road to its parking lots from Route 9 across from Round Pond Road. That road would be built if attendance rose to a certain level and, if it was built, it would have a traffic light, Stec said.

"I suppose at that point they would have to put in a crosswalk," he said.

Becky Valenti, a spokeswoman for Great Escape, said the company has no plans for crosswalks to or from the park, the bridge is the designated way to cross the highway.

"We urge all of our guests to use the bridge," she said. "It comes right up to our main entrance."

Both the private parking lot on the west side, which is at the former Shenanigans restaurant, and at Mountainside Auto Sales have gotten town Zoning Board approval to operate parking lots at their premises. Northlind Sports Outfitters also offers discounted parking, and Brown said the owner has not sought permission to offer parking but has been doing it for so long the town has not made an issue of it.

Brown said the operators of the lot at the former Shenanigans property have posted a sign directing those who park at their lot to use the pedestrian bridge.

The other two lots are on the same side of Route 9 as Great Escape.

"There is a lot of walking traffic from that (Mountainside) lot to the Great Escape and a lot of it from my location," said Dennis Lafontaine, owner of Martha's. "I don't know what the answer is."


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