Police chief calls intersection ‘accident waiting to happen’

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

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.

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“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.

There are 5 comments

  1. Diane Dwyer

    What will change everything is removing the truck traffic off Partition St. Everyone knows that’s the real problem, they’ve forgotten or have some reason not to admit it. Move 9W to King’s Highway and we’re done. Right? Can I get an amen?

  2. Darlene Gilmore-Shapiro

    With the work in progress with the bridge; truckers may find the detour route better suited and use afterwards instead of going through the village. But having said that, why start the bridge work a few weeks before start of the school year, so close to the garlic festival? Bad timing. Is the south side firehouse staffed at all times in case of a fire on the south side? Volunteers can’t wait in a traffic tie up obviously but I read no mention of the plan for emergencies.

    Thank you.

  3. avo Kubar

    The real Problem is parking on both sides of Partition street. SVU’s and trucks all straddle or cross the double line. The Danger of drivers opening their door after parking is a real problem. In my experience I have worked on many Traffic problems.And this is a problem.

  4. KT

    Truck traffic is not the problem. I don’t see anyone complaining about the horse trailers coming into town. The people who own businesses and those truck should NOT have to out of their way to earn a living. Open your eyes people

  5. Sam

    In general drivers could be more courteous to pedestrians and respect their right of way while in the cross walk. I can’t tell how many times an impatient driver nearly ran me down making a left hand turn while I was crossing with the light. New Paltz, which is just as, if not busier than Saugerties has successfully implemented Yield to Pedestrian signs all along the main St. and as both a driver and a pedestrian in this busy area, I’ve found it to be generally a nice arrangement. I always yield to pedestrians and cyclists while behind the wheel, and it’s never made me late or wrecked my day. A little courtesy goes a long way and would help with the credo, “Welcome to the Friendly Village of Saugerties”.

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