The proposed safety and traffic flow project for the intersection of Routes 20 and 60 on the edge of the village of Fredonia should include expansions for the left turning lanes, with an anticipated start date of 2016.
Public Information Of-ficer Beau Duffy of the New York State Department of Transportation explained the project's $720,000, announced by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Tuesday, should help improve the geometry of the intersection, alleviating the high number of rear-end and left-turn accidents there.
"There are a lot of accidents at that intersection that involve left-turn movements and rear-end style accidents, and this is a busy intersection with many commercial plazas and access to the Thruway and the Southern Tier Expressway via NY-60," Duffy said. "We're intending to improve the existing lack of adequate storage in the left turning lanes, and also make lighting and sidewalk improvements that increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists."
Duffy added crosswalks are also intended for the intersection. He said he believes this is a positive and necessary project that should dramatically improve safety in that area for everybody.
The main turning lane to be lengthened, according to Assemblyman Andy Goodell, is the one on Route 60 south of Route 20. Goodell investigated the project's specifics after learning about it.
"That way, cars that are coming north, heading toward Dunkirk, have more room to line up and make a left turn to head toward Fredonia," he said. "Right now, there's not enough space there, so they've had problems with accidents."
Goodell added Route 20 sidewalks in the village of Fredonia will be expanded east to reach the intersection. No sidewalks currently exist between the Fredonia Central School access road and the intersection.
"This should be helpful in improving pedestrian safety, as well as improving car safety by reducing the number of accidents at one of the busiest intersections in the county," Goodell said.
Mayor Stephen Keefe remains skeptical of the proposal after speculating the project could have been a roundabout when he first heard about it.
He is meeting with the Fredonia Complete Streets Task Force Tuesday at 1 p.m. to discuss if the committee believes the project is truly safe for all users.
"We're going to figure out what we feel is the best solution for 60/20 and what's in the best interest for safety," he said. "They can extend that left-lane turn going south, but what happens is you've got a gas station right there that people pull right over there to enter, in addition to Pizza Hut and all these other places. So, what happens a lot of the time is somebody pulls into that left lane, they're not going up to the intersection."
Keefe added situations like that could incite more accidents, since someone following a car intending to turn left before the intersection may not realize that said car is actually turning left right before.
"That's the real reason for the collisions," he said. "A roundabout could solve all those problems, keeping a steady flow of traffic going."
The project remains in the preliminary design phase, explaining why the start date is set for 2016. No end date for construction is established yet.
"After the Complete Streets committee has what they'd like to see, we could meet with a DOT official and maybe see what we can make happen," Keefe said.
The Routes 20 and 60 upgrade is one of 33 in the state announced by Cuomo. All projects are funded through $76 million from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.
According to Cuomo, initiatives for this highway safety funding were selected through a competitive process designed to support those that have "the greatest ability to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries."
"We think the folks that use the 60/20 intersection will see a significant improvement once work is completed," Duffy concluded.
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