Monday, September 10, 2007

NYSDOT responds

With the kind help of Assemblywoman Joan Millman, I have obtained a response to my BQE concerns from The New York State Department of Transportation:

Traffic engineers for Region 11 of the New York State
Deparment of Transportation ( NYSDOT) reviewed accident data at the subject location and discussed the accident patterns at the location
with one of the police officers in the nearby precinct. Our engineers
recommend that the entrance ramp remain open, because closing the ramp will cause unnecessary hardship for the motorists. The affected
motorists will have to travel several miles thru the local streets with
traffic signals and several turns, some of which may be difficult for

As you may know, there is no acceleration lane for the entering
motorists. Based on the accident data and the police officer's
recollection,the accidents are mainly caused by the entering motorists
misjudging the gaps between mainline vehicles in a down grade. The
entering vehicles stop abruptly after the STOP sign,thereby causing most of the rear end accidents. Also, the horizontal curve on the mainline, just before the entrance ramp, limits the sight distance for both the mainline and ramp motorists.

The following recomendations have been made for this location:
1. Install a Curve Warning sign with Advisory Speed Limit sign before
the mainline curve;
2. Restrict motorists to their lanes before the entrance ramp by
replacing the existing white broken lane markings with solid white
lines; so that the entering vehicle will concentrate on the right lane.
The solid lines will discourage lane changing before the entrance ramp.

( A work order has already been sent out for items 1 and 2).

3. We are also investigating the feasibility of installing ramp meter
at this location. We have done traffic counts at this location and are
currently evaluating the data.

This leaves the following problems:

A. DOT concedes accidents at this spot, and also concedes that there is no acceleration ramp. But DOT has not, as yet, furnished comparative accident and fatality figures that would allow us to evaluate just how much more dangerous this entrance ramp is when compared to others in the neighborhood. I have requested such data, from both DOT and the NYCPD, but have not had a response from either agency. (The complete text of my FOIL request is available through a link shown on this blog.)

B. DOT mentions no plans for long-term improvement. They do not seem to contemplate the construction of an acceleration ramp at any time in the future. Absent this indispensable feature, I maintain, this ramp should be closed to traffic.

C. DOT maintains that closing the ramp might prove inconvenient to motorists. Yes, no doubt about that. I personally avoid the ramp, spending an extra three minutes or so driving to the next entrance. In my view that inconvenience is small compared to the alternative. DOT's persistence in retaining the status quo (with only slight cosmetic changes) will result in fatalities, I believe. And no, it will be no fun to say "I told you so."

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