Changes planned for busy Watertown road

Updated: Jul. 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Crossing Arsenal Street in front of the Jefferson County Court and Office Building can be dangerous. Just ask the people at City Dawgz of NNY. The hot dog stand has had a front row seat to some close calls.

“A lot of cars look like they’re not going to stop sometimes,” said Jasmine Blum, who works for City Dawqz of NNY.

The stretch of road has been a concern for city officials for a number of years.

They say between 2012 and 2017, there were 12 crashes there, 3 of them involving pedestrians.

City Engineer Justin Wood says the biggest problem is that there are 2 eastbound lanes heading towards Public Square.

“The two lanes allow vehicles to pass one another to kind of speed through the corridor, the weaving maneuvers,” he said.

So the city is planning to change it into one lane, with two left turn lanes - one from Massey to Sherman Street and one from the Top of the Square Plaza to Public Square. In between, the inner lane will be striped off, no traffic allowed.

“It becomes a refuge island for the pedestrian to basically look at traffic - cross the first lane, have that refuge island in the center and then cross the second lane of traffic,” said Wood.

Wood says traffic counts found less than 20 percent of drivers actually use the inner lane and those who do mostly use it as a turning lane.

He says the changes won’t have a big impact on traffic flow.

“The benefits to the pedestrian are quite substantial and the impact to traffic is quite negligible so really it’s kind of a win-win here,” said Wood.

Wood says the work would be simple and cheap, just changing signage and pavement markings.

The city hopes to complete the project sometime this summer.

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