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Road work likely causing jump in city auto crashes

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

Road work in the city of Amsterdam is likely a contributing factor behind the upswing in motor vehicle collisions this month, police said.

Amsterdam Police Det. Lt. Kurt Conroy said the first 11 days of June netted nearly as many MVAs as the entire month of May.

Between personal injury and property damage incidents, Conroy counted 38 for the month of May, and 31 already for the month of June.

Ten incidents occurred at Route 30 south or Route 5 west, Conroy said, noting two were personal injury incidents.

Both Routes 30 south and 5 west are the sites of several road construction projects. However, Conroy said because the police department's records management system doesn't document street addresses for those reports, he couldn't confirm the collisions were at that intersection.

But he couldn't refute it, either.

"I'm not saying they're all at construction sites, but the construction is a contributing factor," he said. "There's a lot of construction going on, and we're coming into travel season, so all that traffic is trying to get around it."

According to the state Department of Transportation's weekly roadwork report, traffic signal, sidewalk and pavement restoration projects are underway at Route 5 west -- at three different intersections.

Two of them are at the intersection of Route 30 -- one at Pine Street, and one at Schuyler Street. That section also has a long-term, 24/7 left lane closure, the report says.

In addition to what's underway, Conroy also noted previous construction on Route 30 north and Market Street.

"You have all that traffic trying to get around, and there are traffic delays and lane closures, so would I say the construction is a contributing factor [behind the increase in incidents]? Yes."

"We get a bird's eye view of the construction here from the detective bureau," Conroy added. "We see what's going on every day."

DOT Spokesman Jim Piccola, stationed in Utica, said he heard there were several MVAs at the intersection of Routes 30 and 5 as of late.

But he was unable to reach on-site crews when contacted late Wednesday afternoon to confirm the reports, and whether any changes were initiated to minimize impacts and increase motorist safety.

"I'm sure they're doing something, if they haven't already," Piccola said.

As the construction continues, Conroy urges motorists to be vigilant.

"Pay attention to the crews, the flag men, and the traffic patterns," he said. "Give yourself extra time to get somewhere, because there are delays, and be alert."

Once the work is completed, Conroy anticipates it will take time for some to get used to the new traffic patterns, which will turn other one-way streets into two-way traffic.

It's anticipated a northbound lane on Route 30 (in front of the city post office and library) will become southbound, and the aforementioned westbound lane on Route 5 will become eastbound.

"I'm concerned it will take some time for the people who live in the city to get used to the changes," Conroy said. "And people who are not from the area, if they're using GPS units, they might have some issues also. Hopefully, people will catch on quickly."

"There might be some growing pains, but in the long run, I think this will be positive," Conroy continued.

Conroy additionally praised DOT for the permanent lane closures to get people acclimated to the changes before they're implemented.

"We want people to get used to it," Piccola said, "but I don't think it will be too hard for people. Most understand what a double-line means. Once we get the striping in, and people notice the lights, I think they'll catch on fast."

     

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