OXFORD — Safety concerns at the intersection of routes 26 and 121 in Welchville have prompted the Department of Transportation to initiate a safety improvement project that will redesign the busy intersection to reduce the number of accidents.
DOT Project Manager Brian Keezer and Consulting Engineers Senior Project Manager Linda Greer met with a handful of residents and town officials on Tuesday, June 6, to hear comments from the public and detail the project that is expected to begin during summer 2018.
The estimated $600,000 project, which will be combined with a second DOT overlay project, will not cost the town anything, and will be done over a two- to three-month period between August and October 2018.
According to Greer, there were 18 accidents at the intersection between 2010 and 2012, the majority being rear-end collisions. The number makes the intersection a “high crash” area in terms of DOT definitions. Speed at the intersection, which is primarily businesses, is 45 mph on Route 26 and 30 mph on Route 121.
Project officials said despite the high incidences of crashes, the intersection did not meet the criterion to install a traffic light. Instead the plan is to redesign the intersection by increasing the site distance for turns at the intersection by bringing the intersection to more of a 90-degree angle, creating a flush medium island for a designated left turn and creating a truck apron.
The Route 121 entrance to the Big Apple complex will be redesigned and pushed further back from Route 26.
In addition to the intersection project, the DOT is planning to do an 1 1/4 quarter inch overlay on Route 26 between Rabbit Valley Road, on the south side of the Oxford Casino, and King Street (Route 121) by Main-ly Action Sports.
The project will be combined with the intersection project to keep disruption on the busy road to a minimum and to provide better costs for the DOT.
Part of the overlay project will involve relining the turns on Route 26 to add two more turn lanes such as the left turn lane currently at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Residents and local business owners said they had several concerns.
Lois Pike said she has watched trucks coming northbound on Route 26, down Pigeon Hill, and then shoot across the intersection into the first entrance of the Big Apple complex off Route 121.
Greer said that type of information is valuable to engineers because it tells them they might have to push that entrance further down Route 121 to prevent trucks from making that dangerous maneuver.
Other business owners such as Big Rig Shop owner Floyd Thayer asked about and were assured that access to their business would remain unimpeded.
DOT is now accepting written public comment from about the project. Specs are expected to be finalized in May 2018, go out to bid in June 2018 and construction should start in August 2018.