ELIZABETHTOWN — The intersection of Routes 9 and 9N and Water Street in the town of Elizabethtown is being converted to require traffic to stop in all four directions.
According to Bryan Viggiani, public information officer of the State Department of Transporation Region 1, DOT is configuring stop signs and blinking red lights for all four directions of the intersection, replacing a pattern that currently requires travelers approaching the intersection to stop only if they are traveling eastbound on Water Street or westbound from Route 9N on River Street.
The DOT has already changed the southbound Route 9 (Maple Street) crosswalk designations and sidewalk curb ramps closer to the intersection to improve pedestrian visibility.
“At DOT, safety is our top priority,” Viggiani said.
“The department’s plans follow an analysis of accident and traffic data and many requests from the community to make this intersection safe for all users of this intersection, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.”
The project includes adding stop signs for northbound and southbound travelers to complement existing signs for eastbound and westbound travelers, which themselves were enhanced in 2012.
“All way,” text will be added to the stop signs on all four legs of the intersection. In addition, DOT will apply, “stop ahead,” markings to the pavement.
There will also be a “stop ahead” warning sign with flashing beacons above and below the sign on the northbound Route 9 and 9N (Court Street) approach to the intersection.
According to Viggiani, “The changes are expected to improve visibility for pedestrians and reduce collisions, thus improving safety for all users and boosting pedestrian mobility.”
Viggiani explained that DOT modified a flashing signal at the intersection of Routes 9N, 22 and 74 in Ticonderoga in a similar manner to form an all-way stop location approximately three years ago.
“Following that change, right-angle-type collisions were reduced by 75 percent. The department expects to see a comparable reduction in collisions at the intersection of Routes 9 and 9N and Water Street in Elizabethtown," Viggiani said.
Plans call for the two weeks following the implementation of the new traffic plan, portable electronic message boards will be in place on Route 9 in both directions to alert motorists of the change in traffic control to an all-way stop.
The project costs approximately $75,000 and the new signal and traffic pattern are expected to be place by this fall.
In December of 2017, Chantell Rowe spearheaded the initiative with a petition after her teenage son’s bicycle was involved with a vehicle at the intersection.
Poor visibility allegedly due to a delivery truck by the convenience store was partially blamed for the mishap.
“It looks like they are finally getting around to doing this project,” Rowe said.
"My husband (Rob) said, ‘It’s not soon enough.’ I would rather have had it started in the spring so people could have got used to the change before winter. I’m surprised on how long it takes to have things like this happen. I witnessed an almost accident at this intersection the other day.”
Arin Burdo was another citizen who felt a change was needed.
"After a Social Center Teen Recreation member was involved in a bicycle accident resulting from an unsafe parking situation at the intersection, several of us in town appealed to the local state DOT office to make the intersection safer with better signage, particularly signage indicating to out-of-town vehicles coming from the Westport interstate exit and turning south onto Route 9 that it is not a four-way stop," Burdo said.
"Many of the close calls I witness are due to cars thinking that Route 9 through traffic will stop. No one asked for a four-way stop. The mother of the teen asked for the intersection to be made safer with a three-light stoplight in a petition signed by hundreds. People clearly want it to be made safer, but do not think this is this answer.”
Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew has some concerns about the new plan.
"Personally, I feel it should be left as it is. I know there have been some minor accidents there over the years, but we are creating more of an issue," Merrihew said.
"I am particularly concerned with the time around eight in the morning when there are 25 or more cars coming from Lewis and others from Westport and they are all bunched up.”
On Facebook, a site entitled, “No Way to the Four Way Stop,” had several responses.
"It’ll be one giant guessing game who got to the stoplight first and who has the right away, not looking forward to this," one post read.
Email Alvin Reiner at: email@example.com