October 24, 2021

Residents in Cortlandville say Bennie Road stop signs don’t work, urge speed limits

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Cars stop Thursday at Walden Oaks Boulevard and Bennie Road in Cortlandville. Three months after stop signs were installed, neighbors said they’d like to see other changes to improve safety, including lower speed limits.

Three months after stop signs were installed on Bennie Road at Walden Oaks Boulevard in Cortlandville, and just weeks after they were made flashing signs, residents say they’d like to see lower speed limits, instead, or maybe more sheriff’s patrols.

In November, stop signs were put up on Bennie Road at the intersection of Walden Oaks Boulevard after the issue of safety was raised by John Conway, who lives near the intersection. More recently, flashing stop signs were installed to get residents to stop at the intersection.

Not all drivers do stop, however, said Anthony DiLucci, president of the Walden Oaks Homeowners’ Association.

“The ones that trouble us the most are the ones that go straight through the signs without stopping,” he said.

DiLucci and other residents who live near the intersection are looking for ways to improve safety. He said he has heard neighbors report many near-accidents at the intersection.

DiLucci said he has received complaints from neighbors on Walden Oaks Boulevard that drivers traveling west on Bennie Road fail to stop at the stop signs from the speed limit of 40 mph, DiLucci said.

From Route 215 on the east, the speed limit on Bennie Road is 45 mph before dropping to 40 mph near the intersection. Farther west heading toward Route 13, the limit drops again to 30 mph.

DiLucci said that because of the high speed approaching the stop sign, “you never know if you’re going to get hit or not” when exiting Walden Oaks Boulevard.

Jacque Boehm Steedle, a resident of Walden Oaks Boulevard, said she’s seen not just regular cars go through the signs, but town-owned vehicles, such as snow plows, go through as well.

She hasn’t seen any accidents, yet, but Steedle said it’s only a matter of time.

“If a plow truck or vehicle is coming down the road, and there are bad conditions, they might not be able to stop in time,” she said.

DiLucci wants to see the speed limit lowered to 30 mph near the intersection from the eastern side. Having sheriff’s officers there as well to catch anyone who goes through the signs would help. DiLucci said he spoke with Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms but did not say what was talked about as it was a private conversation.

Helms could not be reached Thursday for details.

Town Supervisor Tom Williams said he was unaware of town vehicles not stopping at the intersection, but would raise the issue with the town highway department.

In regard to changing the speed limit, Williams said the town sent a request to the Cortland County Highway Department, which then it sent to the state Department of Transportation, but it may take up to a year for a response.

He further said that, to the best of his knowledge, the stop signs were installed following DOT guidance, something Steedle said the town didn’t do.

Williams said he plans to meet with Town Attorney John DelVecchio, Cortland County Attorney Karen Howe, and Helms to see if the town could pay a sheriff’s officer to routinely patrol a select group of Cortlandville roads, including Bennie Road.

“It’s amazing what enforcement does,” he said, noting his experience as a retired state trooper.

Come spring, Williams said the town highway department will paint the word ‘Stop’ on the road near the stop signs to further increase visibility to stop.

He is open to any other suggestions for changes as well.

“If something comes up that needs to be changed, we’re willing to make it,” he said.

DiLucci said he will see how well the flashing stop signs work.

“I guess I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” he said.