November 26, 2021

Route 13 study’s focus: Traffic safety

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Traffic passes on Route 13 near its intersection with Route 366 near Varna in this February 2020 Cortland Standard file photo. Tompkins County planners are studying traffic on a nine-mile stretch of the highway from the village of Dryden into Lansing.

Drivers who use Route 13 between Dryden and Ithaca are concerned about congestion, accidents and access for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to a study on ways to improve safety on the nine-mile corridor.

The state road from Warren Road in Lansing to the village of Dryden’s western boundary was the topic of a scoping meeting Thursday, including data from the study by the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability and the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council.

Katie Borgella, Tompkins County commissioner of planning and sustainability, said the study was conducted to get a better understanding of the traffic situation on the route, since it’s a “big commuting road” with 14 intersections, five of which see heavy traffic.

“It’s raising awareness and getting down possible solutions on how to improve the safety of traffic on the entire stretch,” she said.

A 1,500-response survey was conducted from Jan 28 to Feb. 29 by Susan Charland, planning director at Highland Planning in Rochester. Respondents listed vehicle safety, bike and pedestrian safety and traffic congestion among their concerns.

Respondents want to see more lanes, less congestion and better access.

Lorenzo Rotoli, senior project manager of transportation at LaBella Associates in Rochester, said the study is looking into more traffic lights, lighting at intersections, better lining of lanes and additional signage.

The morning commute — 7 to 8 a.m. — saw between 600 and 1,000 vehicles. The evening commute between 4 to 5 p.m. — saw between 470 and 1,100.

Rotoli said the area saw 540 accidents in five years.

Attendee Todd Bittner asked how many were animal-related collisions.

About 26%, Rotoli said 140 of 540 accidents.

Keith Ewald, managing planner for Barton & Loguidice of Liverpool, said the study considers installing roundabouts at Warren Road, Brown/Sapsucker Road, Lower Creek Road and Pickney Road/Hall Road/NYSEG driveway/Dryden Road.

Rotoli said roundabouts are good to help slow cars so they “don’t zip down the road.”

The project team was asked why New York is adding roundabouts while states like New Jersey and Massachusetts are eliminating them.

Fernando de Aragon, director of the Ithaca/Tompkins County transportation council, said those states have older traffic circles, with more-dangerous designs.

“Modern roundabouts are designed to reduce speed, manage vehicle approaches and line of sight all designed to allow slow and steady vehicular movement, thus increasing safety without sacrificing capacity,” de Aragon said.

Brad Yentzer suggested installing cameras at intersections to catch speeders, adding that tickets would motivate people to slow down.

Charland noted another survey will be posted to the Tompkins County website after Labor Day.