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CROSSWALK FAILS TO GET RESIDENTS SAFELY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF BUSY STREET

It was a lesson in democracy in action: the people spoke, and the government acted.

Springville residents got fed up with traffic barreling down Main Street, making it something of an act of courage to cross the street anywhere but at one of the village's two traffic lights.

The trouble was, most of the downtown business district lies between those two lights, meaning most people end up trying to cross somewhere in the middle.

So residents collected signatures on a petition early this spring and asked the Village Board to do something about the situation. The board agreed that something had to be done. In April, the board decided to ask the state Department of Transportation to install a crosswalk.

The DOT obliged and, earlier this summer, painted a white-striped crosswalk across Main Street (Route 39) at the intersection of Mechanic Street, in the middle of the business district. A yellow diamond-shaped sign on each side of the road alerts drivers to the crosswalk, with the black outline of a person crossing the street.

"We did something the village requested, and we thought it would be beneficial," said Ken Kosnikowski, a traffic operations engineer with the DOT. The Village Board thought it would be beneficial, too.

It seemed as simple as this: a problem arose, the people voiced concerns, and the government provided the solution the people asked for.

Except that the solution apparently hasn't solved the problem. Crosswalk or no crosswalk, it's still commonplace for pedestrians to have to wait five minutes to cross Main Street.

"I'm just worried people feel like if they walk into that crosswalk, they feel safe. They're not," said Trustee Ferris Abdo. "People will run them over."

Since the crosswalk went in, village officials have received several complaints. Traffic still buzzes along at 40 mph or faster in the 30 mph zone. Very often during the day, trucks double-parked on the side of the road block motorists' view of the yellow signs.

And even when drivers can see the signs, it seems most don't know about the state law that tells drivers they're supposed to yield the right of way when a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk on their side of the street.

Karl Lux, superintendent of public works, has sent a letter to the DOT outlining the problems that continue on Main Street, from the speeding cars to the lack of driverregard for the crosswalk. Some of those things the DOT can help the village address; some, it can't, Kosnikowski said.

The crosswalk was not an immediate cure, both village and state officials agree.

Both also agree it will take a joint effort to put together an effective solution, probably a multifaceted one. One possibility involves educating local drivers and pedestrians about what a crosswalk means. Another might be installing a caution cone in the middle of the road, alerting drivers to the crosswalk, similar to the one in the Village of Hamburg.

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