From the beginning, Albany has claimed that the main reason for constructing the new Route 219 expressway was to develop the Southern Tier. The New York State Department of Transportation supposedly has studies that suggest that, as the 219 expressway is extended, traffic volume will increase.
Economics experts tell us that property near traffic lights is the best for development. Safety experts tell us that intersections without traffic lights are not as safe as those with traffic lights. All these factors would seem to suggest that the DOT is shooting itself in the foot by refusing to put a traffic light at the intersection of the old 219 and the new expressway exit at Peters Road. Why would Albany want to thwart its own stated goal for building the 219?
Of more concern to local residents (myself included) is the safety factor. The 219/Peters Road intersection was a very busy place before the expressway and the site of some horrific accidents. Now, 10 lanes of traffic (including a passing lane) converge there with three private driveways. Also located at this intersection are a farm and a commercial tree nursery that use large, slow-moving trucks and agricultural machinery. Yet there is no traffic light, no street lights or even a reduced speed zone, and all in an intersection that's so hard hard to see you have no time to stop if traffic has it blocked.
Numerous accidents have already occurred around the new intersection. In addition, the lack of a stoplight creates long, unbroken strings of southbound traffic. This makes passing as well as pulling into or out of driveways far more dangerous all the way from the new intersection to Ellicottville. Even a temporary traffic light that could be moved to the next potential exit would be better than the current "wait and see" attitude taken by the DOT.
Local residents warned the state experts they needed a traffic light there three years before the road officially opened. I don't know what they're waiting to see but I do know that a lot of locals, knowing the danger, refuse to use the new extension for fear of losing their lives at that intersection.
Some of us are wondering if this is the reason the state is ignoring the requests of local government officials to keep the old Route 219 bridge open during repairs. Maybe they've found a way to force locals and everyone else to use their dangerous new access road and boost traffic volume on the new longer, slower, Springville bypass they are calling an expressway.
With all the money Albany has been willing to commit to this boondoggle; wouldn't a few dollars for a traffic light, a reduced speed zone and several street lights be at least a sensible investment for safety? If nothing else it would at least lend some credibility to the otherwise laughable fairy tales about development Albany used to con people into supporting this project.
Timothy Klahn lives near the Route 219/Peters Road interchange and has criticized the handling of the project since 1995.