November 26, 2021

Cortland looks for state review of crosswalk near college

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A jogger runs Wednesday past the crosswalk at Tompkins Street and Folmer Drive in Cortland. This week, the Cortland Common Council approved asking the state Department of Transportation to review installing lighted signs at the crosswalk, similar to signs near Owego Street and Prospect Terrace.

Crossing Tompkins Street near Folmer Drive, which leads to SUNY Cortland, can be quite a hassle with the heavy flow of traffic.

But following the completions of new crosswalks and signs on Tompkins Street at Owego Street and at Prospect Terrace, proposals have been set in motion to improve crossing near SUNY Cortland and heavily populated student areas.

The council approved, 8-0, Tuesday a plan to have the state Department of Transportation look into installing lighted signs, similar to the ones on Tompkins Street near the intersections of Owego Street and Prospect Terrace, at the crosswalk on Tompkins Street near Folmer Drive.

“I think this is a necessity and the people that do cross there would appreciate it,” Councilperson John Bennett (D-4th Ward) said before the vote.

Cortland Department of Public Works Superintendent Nic Dovi said Wednesday the vote would just start the process and nothing was approved yet.

“This is just a recommendation from the Common Council to have the state look at it,” he said.

Bennett said Wednesday this idea for improving traffic safety near the intersection originated when SUNY Cortland’s Student Life Center was under construction around 2012. The city acted as the lead agency during the construction, he said. Bennett asked college officials to get a state DOT traffic survey done at the Folmer Drive entrance to see if a traffic light would be needed due to increased traffic created by the center’s construction.

The DOT said a traffic light would be needed, but the cost of the project — about $300,000 — was more than the city had available and that the college wasn’t going to pay for it, he said.

After the completion this year of the two other Tompkins Street crosswalks, Bennett spoke with Cortland Department of Public Works Superintendent Nic Dovi about the issue of traffic near the crosswalk, which Bennett said may have gotten the idea going for a similar set up near Folmer Drive to the other Tompkins
Street crosswalks.

Councilperson Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said he learned about the project after a college student was almost struck a few weeks ago.

Michales was unavailable to comment Wednesday.

He thanked Bennett and Dovi during the meeting Tuesday for taking action to address the street crossing.

“Something is definitely needed there and something visual is better than just a sign and some stripes on the road,” Michales said.

Dovi said there was no timeline or estimated cost until the DOT has come back with a recommendation.

City agrees for street abandonment
The council voted Tuesday, 8-0, to abandon a portion of Alvena Avenue as part of a parking lot project by Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.

The project calls for about 600 feet of the eastern part of the road to be closed to make crossing safer between the hospital’s northern parking lot and the main entrance.

Mayor Brian Tobin previously said that once passed by council, he would meet with hospital officials on closing that part of the road.

Denise Wrinn, the chief financial officer of Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, said earlier this month that work on the northern parking lot — including paving, lights and plants to prevent neighborhood light spillage — would begin in early 2023.