Amsterdam traffic light upgrades questioned

Posted at: 05/10/2013 6:01 PM
Updated at: 05/11/2013 6:54 AM
By: Beth Wurtmann

AMSTERDAM - Downtown Amsterdam is a virtual construction site, as DOT crews work on a 3.3-million-dollar project to upgrade eleven intersections.

The State Transportation Department said new traffic lights with the latest sensors, fewer one way streets and more pedestrian crossings will mean smoother, safer travel.

But lifelong resident Thom Rich disagreed.

"When they started putting all these lights here I thought they were going a little crazy myself," he said.

Rich felt the number of new lights was excessive. And he said the crossing at Van Dyke, Market Street and Beacon Ave is a prime example. One signal that was here for 40 years, was replaced with nine, including identical side by side lights in case one breaks down.

Plus, one of the lights has a special purpose.: to service traffic for one residential driveway.

"I just can't believe it, why," questioned Rich, "that just blows me away. One light for one house."

But Region 2 Transportation spokesman Jim Piccola said that 'blind' driveway needs a light, at an intersection that sees 15,000 cars a day.

And, he said, a design study showed outdated equipment and a number of accident, concluding that Amsterdam needed to modernize.

"You can't put a price on safety and I think this intersection is more more safer and efficient and I think the money is well spent," he said.

"Yes it was aging but we made do with it. Why couldn't they just update it, instead of nine lights maybe four," said Rich.

Piccola said Federal and state guidelines call for all of the upgrades, including automated pedestrian crossings.