Another motor vehicle accident at the intersection of State Route 40 and County Route 17 in North Granville that hospitalized a woman has led Washington County Department of Public Works and New York State Department of Transportation officials to consider options for safety.
State Police said on May 9 at about 9:15 a.m., Constance C. Whitmer, 74, of Fort Ann was traveling east on County Route 17 and failed to yield the right of way to Raymond R. Duquette Jr., 46, of Wells, Vermont, who was driving an unloaded log truck south on State Route 40.
“The log truck slowed but was unable to avoid the collision and struck the rear passenger side door of Whitmer’s vehicle,” State Police said. “Whitmer was transported to Glens Falls Hospital for evaluation. The driver of the truck was not injured… Neither party was ticketed.”
NYVTmedia reported on a motor vehicle accident that took place on Feb. 1 caused by a failure to yield at the same location, which has seen incidents like this for several years.
The speed limit is 40 MPH on County Route 17 before and after the stop sign and 55 MPH on State Route 40 with no stop sign.
Granville supervisor Matt Hicks was asked on Feb. 2 if consideration towards implementing a traffic light or reducing the speed limit in this specific area had been made by the Granville Town board. Hicks replied that the NYSDOT controls the specific junction, as confirmed by Washington County DPW superintendent Deb Donohue on May 11.
“The town supervisor (Hicks) is correct that implementation would ultimately be performed by NYSDOT,” Donohue said. ‘The county and the state (as well as the towns) work very closely to support safety on our roads. When the most recent accident happened, it moved this intersection into a new phase where it will be analyzed for further safety considerations.”
A safety analysis determines the crash frequency; where the crash rate is calculated, geometric issues; where sight distance and intersection geometry are analyzed and a field review, which Donohue said was being performed in the county DPW office on May 11.
“We have not heard anything about concerns at this location,” Donohue said. ‘One of our engineers is a volunteer firefighter/EMS personnel and did express concern when the latest call came in. Since then, we have been putting together a plan and will be doing the field analysis today (May 11),” Donohue said. “Significant accident history or citizen complaints with justifiable findings are the qualifications considered to approve changes made to a roadway.”
In terms of the application process for a speed limit reduction, Donohue said an approved town resolution is forwarded to the county along with a form called a Te-9. The county DPW will then send the submitted information to the NYSDOT.
“They have very strict criteria for speed limits and they come to the site and perform their field analysis to determine the speed limit,” Donohue said. “They send the recommendations back to the county to forward on to the town. The county then works with the town to implement the changes.
“This process can be done at the town level for all roads in the town including county-owned roads (dirt roads are not considered for speed limits by the state),” Donohue said.
NYSDOT public information officer Bryan Viggiani said on May 13: “NYSDOT has not received any recent inquiries about the intersection of State Route 40 and County Route 17 in the town of Granville.”
Viggiani outlined the steps for filing a request to the NYSDOT.
“Safety is always a top priority for the New York State Department of Transportation and we would review any request from local officials to study conditions at a specific location,” he said. “A written request for a speed limit or traffic signal study can be sent to DOT Region 1 Traffic Engineer, 50 Wolf Road, Suite 1s50, Albany, NY, 12232. DOT would review sight distance, traffic volumes, crash history, vehicle operating speeds, development in the area, terrain of the highway, vehicle delays, as well as existing signs and pavement markings.”
The criteria for the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, last updated in 2009, is available online at https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/mutcd2009r1r2edition.pdf.
This and the 17 NYCRR Chapter V (New York Supplement) documents are the regulators of “traffic control devices in New York on all streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public travel” according to the NYSDOT.
The 862-page federal guide describes the requirements, specifications and purpose of traffic-control devices.
“To be effective, a traffic control device should meet five basic requirements: Fulfill a need, command attention, convey a clear, simple meaning, command respect from road users and give adequate time for proper response,” the manual said in Section 1A.02.
“Vehicle speed should be carefully considered as an element that governs the design, operation, placement, and location of various traffic control devices.”
Donohue said she recently went to a conference looking specifically for guidance and funding to improve the safety of county roads.
“I spoke with the federal rep concerning these programs on Monday (May 9) and hope to move forward with implementation of recommendations throughout the coming year. This may be one that can be addressed with federal funding.
“There are many options to consider for safe improvements at an intersection. These include larger stop signs, solar-lit stop signs, pavement markings and double-stop-signs (signs on both sides of the road). Washington County does not own any traffic signals.”
Donohue explained the “hierarchy of signage of an intersection” and how the higher level of government involved is responsible for the implementation and installation of signage.
“Since this road is an intersection of a state road and a county road, signage falls to the state,” Donohue said. “That only means that the county and state will work together to improve the intersection at the cost of the state.”
Donohue added that she has not had a request for a traffic signal since she started working for the county in 2018.