Small towns with a tourism season perennially grapple with traffic, but Woodstock’s vehicular woes seem to be getting worse. Though not on the agenda as a topic for discussion at a recent board meeting, the issue prompted a spirited discussion when Councilman Jay Wenk called for revisiting use of a traffic monitor at choke points. Though he’s raised it for several years, his request had more urgency this time.
“This town, in some ways, is living in the middle ages,” in how it deals with traffic, Wenk said. He said the situation, “from time to time, sucks.”
Whenever a tractor-trailer stops to make a delivery to a business, “we’re doomed.” Whenever eastbound and westbound Trailways buses are stopped at the same time, “we’re down the toilet,” he said. Wenk said he has asked merchants “numerous times” to give the town a heads-up when they will be expecting large deliveries and has requested Trailways call ahead when they know two buses will meet, but to no avail. Wenk said he will propose at the July 18 business meeting a resolution calling for a trained traffic monitor whenever there is a significant tie-up.
Some congestion that happens at regular intervals may be more easily addressed, such as when parents pick up their kids from summer camp at Andy Lee Field. “When camp lets out there’s nobody there to direct traffic,” said Wenk, at times exasperated. “I could do it but I’m not trained.”
Councilman Richard Heppner agrees a solution needs to be explored. “It’s impossible to get through town on the weekend,” he said. “Traffic is now backed up all the way to the golf course.” Heppner noted the congestion is also dangerous to pedestrians, who may not be seen in the midst of the traffic.
Wenk said a part-time person would suffice, and during lulls, the traffic monitor could ticket illegally parked vehicles.
Councilwoman Laura Ricci said it might make sense having a monitor at Rock City Road and Tinker Street on the weekends. She also suggested three-way stops there and at Route 375 and Mill Hill Road might alleviate the traffic flow.
Supervisor Bill McKenna said the issue has been raised with the state Department of Transportation before, but the agency wasn’t interested in making the change.
Some noted pedestrians may be part of the congestion, as many can be observed walking out onto the street without looking or crossing without waiting for a break in traffic.
“This is not California,” Wenk said, noting pedestrians do not have the right-of-way until they have stepped out onto the road and even then, only on their side of the road.
Councilwoman Cathy Magarelli said something needs to be done to address the traffic and to get people to be more aware of their surroundings. Magarelli said she almost got into an accident because someone changed their mind mid-turn and nearly backed into her car.
The town already has a part-time traffic monitor, Dominick Scalercio, but he is not used as much as in the past. McKenna said Scalercio used to direct traffic at Rock City Road and Tinker street, but it didn’t seem to help with the traffic flow. He requested that Wenk consult with Police Chief Clayton Keefe before making a proposal.