Concern over mayor’s downtown traffic design proclamation

Editor’s note: The author is currently serving as president of City Council in the City of Troy and has announced his candidacy for mayor of the City of Troy.

To the editor:

In an Aug. 9 press release from the City of Troy, Mayor Oda announced that, “I’m very confident that these enhancements to our roads and walkways will make it even safer for employees, visitors, and shoppers to safely enjoy our historic downtown.” The reason for such a statement was announcing the removal of crosswalks across Main Street at Cherry Street in the downtown area. If you think the removal of crosswalks is a questionable move in order to enhance our walkways, you aren’t alone.

The removal of the crosswalks comes quickly after the abrupt removal of the traffic signal at Cherry and Main Streets. The removal of the traffic signal is part of the larger West Main Street Reconstruction Project, whose scope of work goes from Cherry Street all the way to the interstate.

And while the mayor could hang her hat on the fact that the plans called for the removal of the traffic light, it’s the timing of these moves that calls into question the wisdom of this decision.

The plans of the project, as shown on the city’s website, shows that West Main Street will have two lanes of through traffic and a left turn lane at Cherry Street along with parallel parking on the south side and reverse angle parking on the north side.

Why didn’t the mayor and the service and safety director wait until the new traffic pattern was put into place before removing the traffic signal and cross walks? It makes much more sense to make these traffic signal decisions after the project is nearing completion when West Main Street will have fewer lanes of traffic. If the final plan still called for four lanes of traffic, would the traffic signal and crosswalks still be removed?

Complicating this issue is the fact that the sidewalk on the south side of Main Street between Cherry and Plum Streets is still blocked off due to the damaged building at 112-118 W. Main St. As it stands today, there is no safe way to get across West Main Street. If you are at the courthouse and want to go to Winans, how are you supposed to get there?

Pedestrians and patrons can’t cross at Plum Street and go east and these same folks can’t cross at Cherry Street. Individuals can try to cross at the public square, but with two lanes of eastbound traffic that is not unimpeded coming into the square, that decision becomes a questionable proposition, especially for our citizens that might be elderly or have mobility issues.

While the removal of the crosswalks and the traffic signal may have been warranted by traffic engineers, there has been no logical argument made to make these changes at this time. Especially given the other factors that are making being a pedestrian in downtown Troy more difficult.

Our community is starving for leadership that isn’t afraid to say no to a traffic engineer or a service and safety director when we know our safety is at risk.

We can do better.

William Lutz

Troy