Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca recently approved a plan to improve pedestrian safety at a number of city intersections, according to Council member Seph Murtagh.
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The plans were underway before two recent pedestrian deaths in the Ithaca area.
The city will install intersection bulb-outs, or curb extensions, at the intersections of Green and Corn, Green and Plain, Seneca and Corn, and Seneca and Plain. The Ithaca City Common Council approved the bulb-outs at its recent Feb. 4 meeting.
Example of bulb-out with pictures: http://sanjoseguerrero.com/Planning/DraftPlan/Bulbouts.php
According to sfbetterstreets.org, bulb-outs visually narrow the road, increase pedestrian visibility, shorten crossing distances and cause turning vehicles to slow down.
Murtagh said crossings at busy state highways — Green and Seneca streets are both part of 79 — are particularly dangerous for pedestrians.
“On Green Street you have the south side neighborhood, on Seneca Street you have the Washington Park neighborhood, and people are crossing the street constantly,” Murtagh said. “There’s a lot of traffic, and I think that’s dangerous to cross there, especially if you have kids or you have a stroller.”
Murtagh said the city would have to pay the costs of the bulb-out projects up front, but will be reimbursed with federal and state money. According to the Feb. 4 Common Council agenda, the total cost of the bulb-outs will be $355,000, and will cost the city about $75,000 after reimbursements, or about 21 percent of the total price tag.
In addition to the bulb-outs, there will also be a project to improve the Cascadilla Creekway, which will cost more than twice as much. According to the council agenda, the project will include replacing the railings along the creek; repairing the creek wall; replacing the Sears Street pedestrian bridge; pedestrian enhancements and curb ramp upgrades at the intersection of Cascadilla Aveue and North Cayuga Street; and enhancing Cascadilla Avenue as a bikeway at a cost of $750,000. The council agenda states this project is also expected to receive federal reimbursement of about 80 percent.
The two pedestrians who were recently killed were both members of the Cornell community. Angela Stedwell, a Cornell University staff member, was struck and killed by a TCAT bus while crossing Jessup Road on Jan. 26. Oluchukwu Onuora, a Cornell student, was then hit and killed while walking along Route 96 just outside of Ithaca on Jan 24.
Murtagh said that pedestrian safety on the state highways — like the one where Onuora was killed — is also on the council’s radar.
“Those accidents happen outside of the City of Ithaca, so I think that this is a case where we really need to partner with our neighboring municipality, the Town of Ithaca, and really see if we can come up with some kind of plan that can make those routes a little safer for pedestrians,” he said.