Department of Transportation plans stop signs at intersection following year-old student petition

The intersection at Main Street, Court Street, North Street and Avon Road outside Courthouse (pictured above), concerns students and residents of the Village over insufficient traffic regulations and danger to pedestrians and drivers. After political science major senior Noah Koven filed a petition in 2016, the New York State Department of Transportation announced its intentions to implement an all-way stop at the intersection starting in spring 2018. (Catherine White/Arts & Entertainment Editor)

The New York State Department of Transportation has announced that it will assess the dangers present at the Main Street, North Street, Court Street and Avon Road intersection and implement a four-way stop.

This plan comes following a 2016 petition filed by a political science major senior Noah Koven. The petition, which originally called for a stoplight at the intersection, received 614 responses from students and community members of the required 500. 

The intersection has had insufficient traffic regulations and poses a danger to pedestrians and drivers alike, Koven said in a phone interview. He had filed the petition after listening to anecdotes from fellow students about dangerous accidents and interactions at the intersection.

“No one thought too much of it and no one wanted to do anything,” Koven said. “I just went on and wrote a petition and I kind of forgot about it but, after a week or so, it started gaining some traction and I [began to understand that] this is something that a lot of people care about.”

Koven spoke to local residents about their experiences with the intersection and penned a letter to the NYSDOT to supplement the petition.

“Many people said, ‘I’ve lived here for 15-20 years. This has been an issue the entire time I’ve lived here,’” Koven said. 

NYSDOT responded over a year later in February 2018 after “a thirty-six month accident summary was compiled, twenty-four-hour traffic counts were taken, capacity analysis was completed, and the physical features of the intersection were noted,” according to a letter from the NYSDOT addressed to Koven. 

This report states that there were approximately four accidents at the intersection each year during the course of the study and that the rate of these accidents is slighter higher than accidents at similar intersections across the state. The reports concluded that it would change the intersection to a four-way stop, NYSDOT Public Information Officer and Regional Public Involvement Coordinator Jordan Guerrein said in a phone interview.

NYSDOT will be responsible for overseeing the installation of the new stop, which is expected to take place sometime during spring 2018, according to Guerrein. 

Some students who had been concerned about the intersection are pleased an all-way stop will be established.

“I like the idea of a four-way stop because I know a lot of people get confused by the lights,” undeclared major sophomore Whitley Brincka said. “When I drive with friends, they say ‘I don’t know who has the right of way.’ I occasionally don’t know who has the right of way. It’s really easy to get confused. I think a four-way stop would be easier.”

Sociology major sophomore Alexandra Marino said this development will be beneficial. 

“The intersection right now isn’t horrendous, but it definitely could be safer for drivers,” Marino said. “I think adding a four-way stop would increase safety and prevent drivers from having to wait so long at the red light.”

NYSDOT takes into consideration the public’s requests to look into the safety of certain intersections, but may not always determine that changes are necessary to improve the area’s safety, according to Guerrein. 

“We need to take a hard look at the data, the facts and how many accidents and how often these accidents were to take place at said intersection to determine the best course of action going forward for the area,” Guerrein said. “I would say every intersection is unique in our region in the sense that they’re not all cookie cutter when it comes to traffic patterns.” 

Although Koven initially hoped there would be a full stop light in the intersection, he said he respects NYSDOT’s decision.

“I’m happy that they decided that something needed to be changed,” Koven said. “I hope in the future [when] students see something that they are uncomfortable with they do the best that they can to affect positive change.”