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Good Question: Is something big missing in a new $14M road project?

February 25, 2019 07:29 AM

OGDEN, N.Y. (WHEC) -- New York state spent millions of tax dollars to expand a busy roadway in our area, but did engineers forget something?

News10NBC's Pat Taney was asked to look into it for this week's Good Question report.

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Earlier this month, the final phase of the Route 531 upgrade project in Ogden was declared finished. When the project began two years ago, the state promised it would ease traffic flow and improve safety where the Route 531 expressway ends at Route 36.

But Janine Barlach, who lives in Brockport and drives the roadway often at night, says the project forgot one thing: Highway lights!

"I use that road every night. I can tell you it shouldn't be completed until they add some light poles along the new route," Barlach said.  

She asked Pat to get some answers.

"Please, please, please, look into if they are going to add some pole lights to this area before someone is in a tragic accident," added Barlach.  

News10NBC decided to test drive the new 531 extension at night. There are some turns and curves, and when it's dark, it can be a bit hard to navigate. But some drivers say if you pay attention, it's not so bad. 

"It doesn't bother me at all. I can see why some would have a problem, but not for me," said driver Matthew Haak.

But many others News10NBC spoke with, say changes are needed to this new multi-million dollar project.

"It can be confusing and they absolutely need to put lights on that portion of the roadway," said driver Jessica Santana.

There are some light poles but only at intersections. The rest of the extension is dark.

News10NBC looked back and found plans from 2017 for this project, shortly after plans to build it were announced. Engineers did identify spots on the highway for "potential lighting" in the renderings but in the end, those lights were never put in.  

We reached out to the New York State Department of Transportation to ask why.

A spokesperson from the department tells us the project, as it stands right now, meets all state and federal safety requirements.

"The recently completed Route 531 Terminus Project in the towns of Ogden and Sweden was carefully designed to ease traffic and enhance safety," said spokesperson Jordan Guerrein. 

When we told the state about concerns from drivers due to the lack of lighting, we were told engineers would be looking into it.

"The department takes the concerns of motorists very seriously and will study traffic data from the area to see if additional measures are warranted," added Guerrein. 

We were not told how long that traffic study will take.

News10NBC will stay on top of this story and provide updates if the New York State Department of Transportation changes course.

In the meantime, if you have a question you'd like answered, send Pat Taney an email at GoodQuestion@whec.com

Credits

Pat Taney

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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