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Traffic changes are awaiting the green light

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - Updated: 10:16 AM

Safety first. That's reason enough.

Those among us who have been wondering if the orange traffic barrels along Church Street and Route 5 in Amsterdam are an art installation or temporarily keeping wrong-way traffic from further entangling the downtown commute can rest assured.

The orange barrels are indeed temporary, according to the state Department of Trans-portation, which is monitoring all of you drivers out there, making sure you're adapting properly to the new traffic signals installed this summer in advance of the return of oncoming traffic.

Following a year's worth of downtown reconstruction, the installation of new traffic signals and street signs, and the painting of double solid yellow lines in left-hand lanes, we were told two-way traffic was returning in June.

We mean July.

Or was it August?

Well, it's September. The school children are heading back to class, orange safety barrels still line the streets, and little has been learned about when the mayhem of teaching old drivers new tricks will actually begin. Until today.

The state DOT says that for safety reasons, it is not ready yet to let us loose to careen wildly in our new driving lanes. Spokesman James Piccola told us Tuesday that our habits and the new traffic signals are being monitored in the DOT's Utica office. And when the timing of all the new signals is coordinated properly, the change will be given the green light.

"Right now, before we get this open, we want to make sure it's as safe as possible and once that's done, then we'll feel comfortable opening the roads," he said. Piccola and other members of his department in Utica are able to watch video streams of traffic on a computer and can monitor patterns across the state, including downtown Amsterdam. That's just awesome. Technology being used for the right reasons is a powerful tool.

We've wondered about the delay, while staring at the orange artwork, and are glad to hear it is for the right reason.

First, a return to afternoon newspapering. Soon, a return to two-way downtown traffic. Can the rebirth of a thriving Main Street business district be far behind?

Hey. Nothing wrong with dreaming.

     

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