Cite: Utica OD article-May 24, 2007

Ilion woman's traffic study gets fresh look

May 24, 2007
As appeared in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, reproduced without permission.

The Facts: Some recommendations in Ilion resident Sherry Baylis's study on improving safety in Ilion and the Route 5S corridor.
  • Number the Route 5S exits No. 1 to 5 from the Frankfort Higby Road exit to the Mohawk East Main Street exit.
  • Remove all Route 5S passing lanes and lower the speed limit to 45 mph from the Acme Road overpass in Frankfort to the South Washington Street bridge in Herkimer.
  • Develop a safety-enhancement system for the Route 5S westbound exit onto Route 51 by the Ilion Marina.

HERKIMER - Ilion resident Sherry Baylis spent seven years putting together a study on dangerous spots on Route 5S and intersections in the Ilion area, and now government agencies may act on her work.

Baylis, the victim of a 1999 car accident on McGowan Road near 5S, asked state and local officials Wednesday night at Herkimer County Community College to continue her cause.

The Herkimer County Legislature soon will be looking into making recommendations to the state Department of Transportation, and state transportation officials will conduct their own study into the feasibility of suggestions in Baylis' study.

"Whatever comes next will be by their hand," Baylis said. "It's like a seven-year itch scratched."

County Legislator Gary Jackson will take her recommendations to the Legislature's Public Safety Committee, which will review the study and make its own recommendations to the entire Legislature. The Legislature could then vote to submit the recommendations to the DOT, Jackson said.

"I personally think it's all legitimate things that need to be done," Jackson said.

The Department of Transportation appreciates such enthusiastic citizen involvement and will be reviewing the study, looking at accident reports and seeing how the study matches up with engineering standards and highway laws, said Alice F. Romanych, assistant to the regional director.

"We have to look at this and see what's possible and really what's beneficial," Romanych said.

Funding is another concern, and the ideas must be put in perspective against other issues in the six counties and 13,000 miles of lane highways the regional Department of Transportation handles, she said.

Romanych said she was optimistic, though, because many of the concerns mentioned in the study might be correctable with low-cost changes.

Alterations to signs or lines in roads could be made quickly, but any projects involving construction wouldn't take place for at least one year and any complex projects would take at least three years, Romanych said.

State and federal funding must be addressed in the transportation department's five- year Transportation Improvement Plan, which will be discussed during a meeting Thursday, May 31, at HCCC.

Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace said he will be battling to get some changes to 5S included in the five-year plan, such as redoing the on and off ramps.

"That's something we are going to put forward," Wallace said.

Baylis told the officials from the state, county, Ilion and Frankfort that she was handing the project to them and bowing out. The officials asked her to instead stay involved with this and other projects.

She agreed, but still said she needed some rest after seven years of work.

"I'm taking tomorrow off," Baylis said Wednesday night. "I've got a meeting with a hammock."