October 23, 2021

Study of Route 13 mulls solutions to congestion, safety concerns

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Vehicles wait to turn onto Route 13 in Dryden from Route 366, and vice versa, on monday. A Route 13 corridor study showed this intersection was one of the most problematic between Dryden and Ithaca, with long waits and poor sight lines.

DRYDEN — When Kevin Fitch of Scott, a Cornell University employee, leaves work and heads home on Route 13, he knows he’s going to be smack dab in the middle of congestion.

“It’s pretty much bumper-to-bumper traffic with cars averaging 40 mph,” Fitch said Monday.

An 8.5-mile stretch of Route 13 from Warren Road in Lansing to Spring House Road in Dryden faces congestion at several intersections — particularly at Route 366 — poor sight lines for drivers looking to turn onto or off the road, and poor coordination of traffic, shows the final draft of a study presented recently to the Tompkins County Legislature to create a 10-year plan.

Fitch knows the problems well. He and hundreds of other drivers have endured longer wait times as traffic moved down the busy state highway, some even got into accidents. Eventually, Fitch started taking back roads to the university to avoid Route 13.

He said others do the same.

The study looked at traffic flow at six intersections to determine design deficiencies. It found certain intersections became congested because drivers can’t always see well enough to turn.

Fitch said traffic in front of the New York State Electric & Gas building on Dryden Road can back up three-quarters of a mile, and that when TCAT buses stop, they have no place to pull over, often causing traffic to back up.

The study also looked at the possible effect future development could have on traffic flow in Dryden, one of the fastest growing towns in Tompkins County. The study also looked at traffic accidents, finding 595 crashes over five years, of which 34% were vehicles being rear ended.

The study also lists possible solutions:

  • Re-timing signals to reduce delays.
  • Implementing a vehicle detection system, which would detect the presence of vehicles and change signals at appropriate times.
  • Putting up additional warning signs.
  • Installing additional turn lanes and perhaps a roundabout at Brown and Sapsucker roads, Lower Creek Road or Dryden and Pickney roads.
  • Creating more signalized intersections.
  • Reconfiguring intersections so drivers make right angle approaches instead of needing to have larger turning areas, which reduce visibility and increase the time the vehicle is in the intersection.

Now that the study is done, the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council, which deals in planning and policy with the state Department of Transportation, will rank what needs to happen, said Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer, who was on the study’s steering committee.That would give the DOT an idea as to what needs to be done, when it needs to or should be done and they can determine whether there’s funding available for such projects

But it also helps the town of Dryden with its comprehensive plan and zoning regulations, Leifer said. He said the town, once its comprehensive plan is complete, will begin rewriting its zoning rules, implementing some ideas presented in the study.

One idea he said might be to require new businesses in the mixed-use district along Route 13 to have service roads, preventing people from having to get directly on and off of Route 13 to get to businesses.