Let’s see McDonald’s traffic plan

From the Tuesday front page of the OBSERVER, readers learned that on Aug. 28, the New York state Department of Transportation announced it had rescinded all approvals for the Routes 60 and 20 roundabout because of a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court by McDonald’s restaurant.

More details were provided by the OBSERVER on Wednesday. Local McDonald’s owner Enrico Francani challenged the determination the roundabout project was not subject to an environmental impact review pursuant to state law. Eight months have passed since the state DOT publicly presented its project plan for the roundabout in December 2016 in the Fredonia Village Board room.

When did Francani file this lawsuit? Why have so many months passed before this lawsuit was reported to the public? Did McDonald’s and the DOT work diligently to resolve issues representing the interests of motorists and pedestrians, as well as McDonald’s needs?

The OBSERVER reported that one of the attorneys representing Francani’s petition stated in a press release: “We presented (the DOT) a modified plan developed by a local traffic engineering firm that would have reasonably and safely remedied the problem.”

We might find encouragement from McDonald’s acknowledgement that the proposed roundabout “would prevent left turns from the highways into various businesses, including Francani’s McDonald’s restaurant.” The public has a right to read design modifications recommended by McDonald’s and modifications made by the DOT since December 2016.

The DOT should schedule a public hearing to present both plans. Failing that, we ask the Observer to obtain and publish both modified plans. For this reader, there is a question of whether this lawsuit might have been a “last ditch” delaying tactic by McDonald’s.

Years ago one of McDonald’s competitors advertised “have it your way.” But now McDonald’s appears to be proclaiming “have it my way.” We request that McDonald’s voluntarily submit its modification plan to the local news media so we can all read its details. And by the way, let us know how much money McDonald’s Corp. is investing toward this dispute.

Although the roundabout has been promoted in an attempt to reduce accidents occurring both at the intersection and from left turns into and out of businesses near that intersection, the roundabout would also serve as an efficient means to keep vehicles moving through the intersection 24/7.

Traffic circles have consistently demonstrated efficiency. They are designed to slow approaching vehicles without requiring them to come to a full stop. Drivers very quickly adapt.

It’s a matter of a proper blend of caution and assertiveness. Drivers approaching and passing through traffic circles watch each other closely with a readiness to coast, brake or accelerate as required to avoid a visit to the body shop. I encourage skeptics to park near the Irving traffic circle and watch the interaction of drivers. It’s a dance that goes smoothly.

The oldest among us remember that during slow traffic hours, such as overnight, traffic lights could be set to automatically switch to “blinking red”, meaning “stop, look, and yield before proceeding.” That is now considered unsafe. Consequently, now a driver must wait the full duration of a red light despite absence of any cross traffic.

I suspect that many readers, as well as I, during busier periods of traffic congestion, have waited through two lengthy red lights while queued in a long line of cars and trucks waiting for cross traffic and left turn only lights.

With regard to an environmental impact statement, I say to McDonald’s “bring it on.” The biggest environmental impact I can envisage would be the tons of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide annually wafting into McDonald’s eating areas, from the cars and trucks queued at the intersection waiting out red lights.

In closing, I find it disturbing that “the deck seems to be stacked” in favor of businesses vs. the interests of the general public for safe and efficient roadways. What driver or pedestrian can afford to pay for professional advocacy for their needs?

We, “the people”, used to look to our local newspapers and local governmental officials to look after our needs. This might not be the final lawsuit if an injured motorist of pedestrian files a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of safety provisions in the roundabout design.

Martin Sanden is a Dunkirk resident.

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