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News10NBC Investigates: Congestion worsens at Greece intersection

June 20, 2018 02:24 PM

A Greece intersection which, has become a scene of chronic traffic backups and illegal maneuvers by drivers, was the target of a new survey Wednesday and lobbying campaign to the state for help. 

“It’s just a mess,” exclaimed longtime Latta Road resident Gary Clum before he pulled his minivan north on North Greece Road. He then made a U-turn to make a southbound approach to the intersection at Latta Road so he could take Latta eastbound.

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“Sometimes, I may go around the block and come back on North Greece Rd,” he explained. “It’s a nuisance that way too. Sometimes I take Berry Patch and zigzag all around the housing tracts to avoid it.”

The Latta Road/N. Greece Road crossroads attracted new attention as the Town of Greece considered plans for a new gas station and coffee shop on its southeast corner at the old Hotel Demay. However, it had long been “targeted for enforcement” by Greece police because of its heavy traffic volume and tight quarters.  

With both roads only two lanes wide, police said, motorists would commonly use the shoulders to make right turns or go straight through the intersection past vehicles turning left.  

"If somebody stops to make a left turn, legally all the traffic behind that vehicle has to stop and wait for that vehicle to make a left turn,” said Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan. “What happens, in reality, is people pass on the shoulder, which is illegal."

During an ordinary afternoon rush hour, News10NBC observed a consistent stream of vehicles on both Latta Road and North Greece Road, northbound and southbound, routinely crossing the solid white line onto the shoulders to pass through.  

“It’s like people just go when they want, as they’re turning I guess,” remarked Lyndsey Edelman who worked at the Sunoco gas station on the northwest corner of the intersection. "It’s a hazard really."

Within minutes of Edelman speaking, an SUV, drove onto the shoulder outside the Sunoco, then made an illegal right turn on red onto Latta Road, just a few feet from the “no turn on red” sign for southbound traffic on North Greece Road.

Edelman joined several witnesses on three corners of the intersection in describing a nonstop series of traffic violations, as well as close calls and accidents at the scene.

“A car hit another car because it slid,” she recalled. “And then, a couple weeks back or about a month ago there was a three-car pileup.”

“Each intersection along Latta Road has a story to tell,” sighed Arthur Daughton, a veteran community activist.  “And the question is how many more lives have got to be lost?”

On Wednesday, Daughton said he planned to drive the entire 7.1-mile length of Latta Road taking his own survey. 

It will be part of his personal lobbying effort directed at State Senator Joe Robach to support a new study of the capacities and needs of intersections along Latta Road such as the North Greece Road intersection.  

As a state road, Latta is the responsibility of the state. 

Phelan recalled asking for an inquiry into that same intersection in 2014. The state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), he said, told him no such study was needed, although NYSDOT did make some adjustments to the timing of traffic lights at the intersection.

NYSDOT, Daughton said, had no funds available for such research. Instead, Daughton said he hoped to get legislative aid in the form of a grand to make such an inquiry happen.  

A better understanding of the limitations of area roads and what could be done about them became progressively more important, Daughton said, as the Town of Greece approves even more developments which will then create more traffic volume. 

“Before you go any further and create all this development, do the study,” Daughton said. “See what’s possible and see what can work.”

NYDOT Public Information Officer Jordan Guerrein issued the following statement to New10NBC:

“We appreciate the continued discussion regarding the intersection of North Greece and Latta Roads in the town of Greece. NYSDOT conducted a traffic study in 2015 to determine the feasibility of enhancements at the intersection, including the addition of turning lanes. This study also examined three years’ worth of accidents at the location.

We were asked by town officials to look at the intersection again at the end of 2017, and we found little to no changes in accident patterns since the first study was conducted. We will continue to work with the town on ways to enhance safety at this intersection.”

Credits

Charles Molineaux

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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