It’s taken 11 years and two mayors, but the long-anticipated Streetscape project has finally gone to bid. The $870,000 project calls for improved crosswalks, curbing and ramps at many of the intersections along Main and Partition streets. Work is expected to take place this fall.
But according to Police Chief Joe Sinagra, the project leaves out an important improvement that would increase safety: the installation of walk and do not walk signs at the Partition and Main streets traffic light.
The chief said pedestrian traffic has increased as a result of the village’s revitalization. A full complement of businesses and events like First Friday, which draws hundreds to the village center each month, is a good thing, but it’s leading to more “close calls” between pedestrians and vehicles.
“Currently the traffic lights are synchronized to simultaneously change at Main Street and Partition, thus preventing any degree of time lapse, affording the opportunity for pedestrians to freely move across the intersection without confronting vehicular traffic,” Sinagra wrote.
“The current status of this intersection, in my opinion, is an accident waiting to happen,” he added.
Because of the danger at the intersection, Sinagra said, during the school year (which begins on Sept. 4), a safety officer (usually Bill Kimble, the former chief of the village police department) is stationed there to make sure kids can cross safely.
The problem, say village officials, is not the lack of signage, but the type of traffic light. Alex Wade, who is in charge of special projects for the village, said the village used to have walk and do not walk signs at the intersection, but the DOT removed them in the 1980s because they were leading to traffic jams. Northbound cars on Partition St. would be backed up all the way to the current location of Diamond Mills, said Wade. Traffic still becomes backed up at that intersection because the light is operated by a timer rather than a vehicle traffic sensor, said Wade.
“What we need is to get the DOT to install a light that uses the sensors,” said trustee Terry Parisian.
Wade added that that’s the only way that intersection will improve, because the current light is an older-style light and cannot be converted to one that uses sensors.
“The state estimates the cost of a new traffic light there or anywhere else is between $400,000 and $500,000, and they say they don’t have the money for it,” Wade said.
However, the DOT has told local officials that it is considering installing a traffic signal at the intersection of Main and Washington streets by Cahill Elementary School next year. “But we really need something at Main and Partition streets now,” Sinagra said.
In the meantime, Sinagra pointed out that in New York State it is the law that all vehicles stop when a pedestrian is in the crosswalks. He said the police would be strictly enforcing that law until something can be worked out with the DOT.