Back to the drawing board for Arsenal Street lane change

wwny Back to the drawing board for Arsenal Street lane change

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It's back to the drawing board. What was supposed to make Watertown safer has caused a big traffic headache.

Back in September, city officials decided to turn two lanes of a portion of Arsenal Street to one lane.

The idea was to make it safer for people walking, but some think it's done the opposite, plus it's caused a lot of congestion.

"Oh, my God, yes. A lot more road rage up here," said Andrew Fokas, driving in Arsenal Street traffic.

The stretch of Arsenal Street from Massey Street to Public Square used to be two lanes. Now it's one and it's backing up traffic.

Workers at The City Dawgs hot dog stand have had a front-row seat to the frustration.

"Honestly, it's the worst thing that they've done. It gets all cluttered, there's a lot of traffic," said April, City Dawgs helper.

City officials say they've heard the complaints so they're bringing in traffic engineers from Syracuse to solve the problem.

If their contract is approved at Monday's city council meeting, they'll get to work designing a plan to ease the congestion.

“Currently, the intersections, there’s no linkage, no synchage, they’re all off. So you may have a green at one and a red at another,” said Michael Delaney, city engineer.

Reducing the traffic lanes from two to one was supposed to improve pedestrian safety.

"But it's actually gotten a little bit worse since they've reconfigured the roadways," said James Davis, pedestrian.

Council members aren't opposed to reversing it and installing flashing pedestrian signs instead.

"We'll see what the experts say and if they recommend that they open it back up to two lanes, I'm okay with that too," said Lisa Ruggiero, city council member.

It would be the start of a large-scale project to improve traffic, synching a number of lights and installing those flashing signs all throughout downtown.

In all, a final plan for the traffic changes will be drafted by July of this year and those changes should be completed by July of next year.

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