October 3, 2007

Reading the Route 13/366 study

I finally got to sit down and read the Route 13/366 Corridor Management Plan last night. After disliking the initial visions presented, wondering if and when the report would ever appear, and then finding the opening of the plan discouraging, it took some energy to take a close look at it.

Mostly, I'm not very excited. However, there are some good suggestions worth noting:

  • Work with NYSDOT to remove the existing passing zone through the Hamlet of Varna. This is an important first step in achieving the desired character of the residents,

  • Contact NYSEG to explore the viability of removing, minimizing, or screening the power lines and substation in the overlap section of Route 13 and Route 366. This area is important for the nodal development pattern and anything that can be done to improve the viability of the node point should be explored.

  • Coordinate with TCAT on the number of routes and reliability of service in the area. Comments gathered during the study indicated the transit service was not as reliable as desired to use for the daily commute.

  • Work with NYSDOT on a redesign of the western Route 13/366 intersection to improve safety. This should include consideration of the applicability of a roundabout.

Those are all concrete ideas very much in line with concerns expressed at the public meeting, with the possible exception of the roundabout. (I think that specific detail is a bad idea, but at least they thought about the intersection.)

There's also some useful data, like vehicle counts per day on different sections of the corridor, from page 4:

AreaVehicles per day
366, Ithaca line to 137,250
366 / 13 overlap17,790
13 from 366 to 3811,590
13 / 38 overlap14,000
13 from 38 to Cortland line11,080

Their comments on speeding don't correspond well to my experience of much faster night speeds, but they claim to have measured:

Travel runs were completed during the AM and PM peak travel hours and non-peak conditions to determine the average speeds along the corridor. Speeds were consistent throughout the day along the entire corridor. Drivers typically traveled at or above the speed limit with a small number of drivers excessively speeding through the corridor.

Speeds typically ranged from the speed limit to ten miles an hour above the speed limit along all five sections of roadway in the corridor. (4-5)

In accident data, page 6 makes it clear that Route 366 west of 13 has a higher than average accident rate (3.74 compared to an average 2.81), as does the 13/366 traffic light (0.79 compared to 0.59.)

They inventory trails, municipal buildings, and environmentally sensitive areas, and run down the current zoning in both the Town and Village of Dryden along that corridor. Finally, on page 21, they list the primary concerns of residents from the initial community meeting:

  1. High speeds and traffic volume through the corridor make accessibility on and off difficult and unsafe (24 attendees chose this as a "top three" issue)

  2. Route 13 / 366 intersections are unsafe (18)

  3. Separate through traffic from local traffic (Route 13 by-pass, new Route 13 location, frontage roadways) (12)

  4. Concerns over cut-though traffic avoiding Route 13 congestion (11)

  5. Character of Varna and lack of sidewalks (9)

  6. Maintain open space / agriculture (7)

  7. Utilize alternate modes of travel (5)

Then they jump to "Future Development Scenarios". The easiest way to see these is to look at two figures:

  • Figure 10 (616KB PDF), what they think might happen if nothing is done. (It's not clear if they think that will happen under current zoning, or the vision suggested by the Dryden Comprehensive Plan.)

  • Figure 11 (320KB PDF) shows what they'd rather see happen. (This map still shows new housing on the steep hill behind my house, with my house as the driveway, but I guess they're no longer explicitly recommending that particular piece, just hoping it'll happen...)

The next eight pages list the reasons they think the nodal development they propose is better than the scenario they think will happen otherwise. A few highlights:

  • Fewer driveways onto 13. (366 already has lots, as does the Village of Dryden.)

  • Fewer signs along the road.

  • Around 10% less mileage driven per day. The traffic modeling sounds pretty inconclusive, though:

    The results of the modeling effort did not show a significant difference in traffic volumes on the corridor during the afternoon peak hour (5 - 6 PM). Each scenario had traffic volumes that were higher in some areas and lower in others, dependent on the projected development surrounding each roadway link. Aggregating the entire Town, however, the ITCTC concluded that the Nodal Development Scenario would result in approximately 3,400 less vehicle miles traveled during the afternoon peak hour than the Existing Development Scenario and approximately 34,000 less vehicle miles traveled for an entire day.

  • They talk about new traffic signals, thinking that both scenarios would require new signals at:

    • NYS Route 366 / Freese Road

    • NYS Route 13 / eastern intersection with NYS Route 366

    • NYS Route 13 / Ringwood Road

    • NYS Route 13 / North Road

    The main difference between the two scenarios is that the "existing scenario" would have these lights installed in a reactive way, and that there might be roundabouts at the entrances to the Village of Dryden in their preferred scenario.

  • Possibly fewer additional turn lanes needed in the nodal scenario.

  • Probably fewer accidents because of fewer access points. There's a sentence I don't completely understand about "the reduction of access points on Route 366 in Varna," along with this partly promising suggestion:

    this report recommends the elimination the passing zone on Route 366 though the hamlet. A passing zone does not promote safe, controlled speeds though the hamlet and the sense of place desired by the community.

    In addition to the elimination of the passing zone to improve safety, the community should seek a speed limit reduction on the roadway and the installation of traffic calming measures. Street furniture and trees, as well as gateway features such as roundabouts will improve safety by heightening drivers' awareness of the hamlet. These measures will further enhance the viability of Varna as a node and improve the safety for drivers and pedestrians.

    Finally, sidewalks should be constructed throughout the hamlet to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Currently, the lack of sidewalks requires pedestrians to share the roadway in a high speed passing zone. As redevelopment occurs, sidewalks should be required along with high visibility crosswalks.

  • Nodes should have support for bicycles and pedestrians.

  • Nodes would make it easier for buses to make occasional stops with nicer infrastructure

  • School buses could use those nicer stops or similar stops. Emergency vehicles might have an easier time in traffic.

If you'd like to see what the nodes they propose look like, you can download the drawings (4.5MB PDF). I can't figure out why exactly people will want to live behind the Xtra Mart on 13/366, but maybe an Ecovillage could go there?

The next 12 pages are proposed zoning language designed to build these nodes. The county, of course, has no zoning authority, but apparently they hope to influence the upcoming zoning process. I'll have to get a copy of the letter, but it sounds like the Dryden Planning Board has already told the county to go away.

At the very end of the document, they finally think about resident concerns again and claim this will address them.

There are also appendices, one on the community forum, another on NYSDOT Accident Reduction Factors - which I don't see used anywhere else in the document.

I'll write a concluding piece on this later - this is already way too long.

Posted by simon at October 3, 2007 8:44 PM in ,
Note on photos


Mary Ann said:

Long, but very useful. Thanks, Simon.

It would be interesting to get input from the Dryden Highway Superintendent. I think I'll do that.