Ithaca, N.Y. — Officials working on improving truck safety in Ithaca after the Simeon’s tragedy released a set of 23 ideas for doing so this week.
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Many involve quick fixes, like better signage; others call for protracted, technical analyses to be performed over the course of several months.
One in particular appears most likely to provoke controversy: An idea to reroute truck traffic coming from the Tioga County town of Richford. Instead of having trucks coming directly into the city on Route 79, the detour would take the trucks to Route 13 through the village of Dryden.
Some like this idea because Route 13 has less drastic slope changes than Route 79 coming into the city. Doing so — as noted by the Fernando de Aragon, of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council — would also keep trucks off the road that leads most directly to the busy Commons hub.
But at least one lawmaker — Mike Lane, a Tompkins County legislator — is speaking out strongly against the proposal as dangerous to the residents of the village of Dryden.
“What the people of Ithaca have to remember is that they can’t shift their problem to the people in Dryden. Dryden is already suffering from a huge traffic load,” Lane said.
Lane said that there are already far too many traffic fatalities in the Dryden area because of truck traffic on Route 13. Adding more trucks to that stretch of highway can’t be the right solution, he says.
“For them to say, ‘We’ll just send it through Dryden’ is not the proper way to handle this,” said Lane, who stressed that he’s generally in agreement with the other members of the Joint Working Group on Truck Safety, which includes representatives from the county, city, state and Department of Transportation.
de Aragon, who didn’t speak for or against the proposal, said that the detour — if implemented — would send about 30 more trucks through Dryden every day. The most recent data, from 2007, shows that about 550 trucks “with 3 axles or more” already pass through the village daily.
On Jan. 15, the working group is holding a public meeting at Ithaca Town Hall at 5 p.m.