ITHACA, NY – On Monday, New York State Senator Chuck Schumer paid a visit to the Ithaca Commons to share good news on the topic of truck safety — the fruition of plans set in motion following the Simeon’s truck crash that claimed a life and caused several injuries in June.

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Related: Disaster on Ithaca Commons: witnesses report multiple injuries after tractor trailer slams into Simeons

According to a news release, Schumer announced that a recently passed federal transportation bill would bring $40 million to New York State to help prevent a tragedies like that one. While Schumer didn’t provide any specifics, he said that some of that money could find its way to Ithaca to help fund road safety projects here.

“The tragic crash at Simeon’s Restaurant served as a wake-up call to everyone that a traffic safety overhaul at the east end of Ithaca Commons was needed as soon as possible… the City of Ithaca and NYSDOT ‎have been able to implement some of the smaller, less costly improvements in order to begin making this intersection safer. But there is still more that needs to be done,” Schumer said.

“So today I am here to let locals know about this important new federal funding stream that could help get some of these projects off the ground, so we can continue working to make Ithaca’s streets safer and prevent accidents like the deadly 2014 crash from ever happening again,” he added.

Schumer explained that there are already a number of high priority projects across the state earmarked to receive funding. However, regional planning groups would be able to add local projects, such as the dangerous intersection that feeds right into the Commons.

Mayor Myrick told WICZ that the intersection of State and Aurora Streets were especially important as “the geographical heart of the city and the cultural heart of the city.” Aside from the Simeon’s crash, the site has seen two other “close calls” in the past six years, both involving trucks.

What could change?

According to the release, possible improvements may include changing the design of the roads, traffic patterns, pavement markings, and nearby signs in order to prevent future accidents. Schumer said with the new funds, Ithaca residents may see these changes sooner rather than later. The financial burden might have been too much for city to handle alone.

In particular:

Specifically, the City identified two larger, and costly, recommendations in the RSA (Road Safety Audit)  report that the City of Ithaca would likely need additional funding to complete:

  • Analyzing circulation and traffic patterns at the intersection and around the Ithaca Commons
  • This would need to be studied by city further in conjunction with the NYSDOT, and the MPO would be able to offer technical assistance.
  • This study would more specifically look at road design, streetscape work, roadway improvements and the possibility of a installing a crash barrier.‎
  • The study would be the first step ‎in a more significant reworking of the roads, which could also be eligible for federal funding‎.
  • Increasing the quality of pavement markings throughout the whole crash corridor and potentially using more high visibility, durable pavement markings throughout Ithaca’s Downtown
  • This would make the area safer and more pedestrian friendly.
  • The city has indicated it would not be able to afford this widespread use of more durable pavement markings on its own.

(Photo: Svante Myrick’s Facebook)

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.