Cortland residents want traffic lights, not stop signs at two city intersections

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Eight city residents appeared at city hall Tuesday night to voice their opposition to a plan by city officials to replace traffic lights at two separate intersections with four-way stop signs.

Traffic lights at the intersection of Greenbush and Elm streets–and Greenbush Street and Central Avenue–are outdated but costly to replace, according to Nick Dovi, deputy superintendent for the city’s department of public works.

Children and the elderly frequently cross the intersections, residents said, and stop signs could make the area less safe for pedestrians.

The intersections are located near the Cortland County Office Building, which contains a parking lot that is often filled to capacity.

“It is not an unpopulated area,” said Jo Schafer, a resident who said she frequently walks in the area.

The cost of replacing both traffic lights would likely cost upwards of $90,000, according to Dovi.

Mike Dexter, who chairs the city’s landscape and design commission, recognized the high cost but felt improving the safety of the area should be the priority.

“The cost of it is exorbitant, but safety I think comes first,” Dexter said.

Would new traffic lights be safer?

Before Tuesday’s public hearing, Dovi provided information on the history of accidents at the intersections.

Since January of 2012, more than a dozen accidents have occurred at the intersection of Greenbush and Elm streets, two of which resulted in “bodily injury,” Dovi said.

“They’re definitely obsolete,” he said, referring to the traffic signals. “We thought it was a good time to look into replacing the light or other options, because it has outlived its life expectancy.”

Greenbush and Central

Greenbush Street and Central Avenue (Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice)

Greenbush and elm

Greenbush and Elm streets

Dovi said he’s reached out to several engineering firms to conduct a “warrant analysis,” which would determine the best possible traffic configurations for the intersections.

Replacing the traffic lights with LED stop signs could be a safe and cost-effective alternative, he said.

“I’ve seen people run through that yellow light there constantly and have pretty close calls,” he said. “I thought maybe a stop sign would slow traffic down.”

City lawmakers plan on making a final decision later this month.


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