Weekly Feature

2017-12-07 / Front Page

Town to explore traffic engineering study for uncontrolled intersections


The Orchard Park Town Board is looking into the cost and time involved for a traffic engineering study for all uncontrolled intersections in the town.

That follows a resident’s concerns brought up at meetings of the Town Board and Public Safety Committee about the intersection of Valley View Drive and Pine Terrace in the Eagle Heights Subdivision.

Steven Pearl, the Pine Terrace resident who brought the issue forward, said the intersection experiences considerable traffic, and there are eight children waiting for the school bus at the problem area.

Pearl said the children wait at the intersection because if drivers turn left on Pine, it eventually becomes Misty Ridge Lane, a dead-end street. This means there is no turnaround for a school bus and the children cannot be picked up at their homes. Pearl said the intersection is icy and treacherous in the winter and he worries about cars sliding at the intersection and striking the children.

Police Chief Mark Pacholec said that at a recent Public Safety Committee meeting he started to bring up traffic volume, which Pearl said was irrelevant. Previously, Pearl had conducted his own 30-minute traffic study showing 63 cars used the Valley View and Pine intersection.

Pacholec, who also serves as a board member of the Public Safety Committee, said there have been no accidents at that intersection in the past five years. The closest accident to the intersection was a one-tenth of a mile away in 2013.

“His response to that was ‘Do you want us to call in all the accidents?’” Pacholec said. “I said I can only rely on the data I have.”

Andrew Slotman, another member of the committee, said it was one of the longer conversations the committee has had in some time. The committee meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

Pacholec said Pearl continued to push for a stop sign at the intersection. The chief reminded the resident that there are certain metrics that an intersection has to meet according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for a stop sign to be positioned.

During the meeting, Slotman said they told Pearl they have no issue with addressing the concern but that it has to go through the proper process and channels to find an adequate solution.

“I think [Pearl] is looking at this from a personal and emotional issue, and that’s not the right way to decide it,” Slotman said.

Describing the definition of a stop sign as a device designed to provide right of way to one set of traffic over another, Slotman said they are not used as traffic calming devices or to provide a safe spot for children to stand.

Slotman and Pacholec said there are numerous intersections throughout the town, specifically in the subdivisions, that are uncontrolled intersections, meaning they have no traffic light, stop sign or yield sign. Slotman said there is no issue with this if there isn’t an overload of traffic, the sight lines are acceptable and cars abide by the right of way.

“There’s nothing wrong with having uncontrolled intersections,” Slotman said. “It’s like backing out of your driveway; you know to stop if a car’s coming by you.”

Slotman believes that when the intersection was designed in the 1960s or ’70s the intersection probably met the standards of the MUTCD. He added that the intersection has changed in traffic volume and sight vision, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for the town to look into the issue. But he said it opens a door for every intersection to be called into question.

“However, you react to this one, how many others are out there?” Slotman said. “You can’t take one and address it if you know there’s multiple.”

Slotman said he was glad the intersection did come to the committee because it may elicit other intersections being brought forward that need traffic control devices.

Hearing the back and forth from the meeting, the town decided to proceed with an evaluation of all intersections and called for a traffic engineering study.

Councilman Michael Sherry asked Town Engineer Wayne Bieler to see how much cost and time it would take for a study of the intersections. Pacholec said it would involve around 40 to 50 intersections.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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