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From an "F" to an "A."

Any kid would be thrilled to see that kind of progress on his report card.

So it's hard to understand why anyone on the Glens Falls Common Council would balk at generating that same kind of rapid improvement for the city's most prominent and important intersection - the five-way intersection at Bank Square.

Replacing the failing traffic-light system with a modern traffic roundabout at the intersection will - according to transportation engineers - raise the quality of the intersection from failure to excellence by vastly improving the flow of traffic and making it safer for pedestrians to cross.

That, in turn, will help boost the fortunes of the entire downtown.

In voting tonight on whether to proceed with the roundabout, Common Council members need to cast aside the inherent fear of change and override the overblown negativism of naysayers.

The long waits and dangerous pedestrian crossings at the notorious five-way are more than just a pain in the butt. They're a potential economic liability.

As more businesses set up shop in the heart of downtown, they're going to need to draw customers.

Joining the existing eateries and retailers on the suddenly busy hub are a TrustCo bank branch, a Quiznos sub shop and TV8's new street-view studio. The last thing all those businesses want is for potential customers to purposely avoid the intersection, as many locals do now.

Those businesses also will hope to generate walk-up business. For that, their customers will need a safer way to cross the street than the death-defying dash required now.

As we've said numerous times, this will not be your grandfather's traffic circle, with its multiple lanes and white-knuckle exit and entrance strategies. A roundabout isn't that.

By design, traffic moves much more slowly through a roundabout - about 15 mph.

The roundabout is only one circular lane, so there's none of that dangerous cutting across of traffic to enter and exit the roundabout. Traffic flows smoothly and steadily. You just turn right to get in and turn right to get off.

In setting letter grades for the intersection, engineers noted that wait times at the lights would drop from 2 minutes in the five-way intersection to about 20 seconds in the roundabout - an 83 percent reduction.

Pedestrians also have a safer time.

Roundabouts are designed with traffic islands dividing the driving lanes that enter and exit the circle. To get across, you cross only one lane of slow-moving, one-way traffic, stop on the island, then cross another lane of slow-moving one-way traffic.

No standing in the middle of the road snapping your head from right to left in a frantic panic. You take your time until it's safe to cross.

If you want to experience a modern roundabout, try the one in Greenwich sometime. It works.

Not only is the roundabout good news for motorists, pedestrians and downtown businesses; it's good news for taxpayers. The state and federal governments are expected to pick up 95 percent of the $1 million tab.

As more development moves into the heart of downtown Glens Falls, the city is going to have to create a welcome environment for visitors.

The Common Council tonight can help create that environment by voting to replace the current five-way intersection with a roundabout.

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