Schenectady County

Police, district officials to work on traffic safety near city schools

Speeding and congestion around city schools are worrisome enough that officials are starting to work

Speeding and congestion around city schools are worrisome enough that officials are starting to work with police on a plan to improve traffic safety.

School district Chief of Security Vincent Giammusso said the effort will produce a comprehensive review of traffic around Schenectady High School, the Howe, Elmer Avenue, Van Corlaer and Lincoln elementary schools and the new William C. Keane Elementary School at the former St. Luke’s.

Giammusso said all of these schools were designed originally for walkers, but times have changed.

“While you still have some walkers, you also have a lot of busing, a lot more parents dropping off and picking up. Volume has changed and traffic patterns have changed in and around the school and the surrounding communities,” he said.

Giammusso said police would do traffic counts and look at previous accidents. The goal is to develop a plan of action by September and start making changes, which could include more signs, signals or enforcement.

The high school was selected because it has the most students and is located in a residential neighborhood and it mixes driving, walking and busing. Giammusso said neighbors have expressed concern with congestion, double parking and speeding. It is also difficult to see vehicles entering and exiting parking lots.

Other issues are speeding, particularly at Van Corlaer Elementary School on Guilderland Avenue and at Elmer Avenue Elementary School.

An accident in June 2000 killed 8-year-old Elmer Avenue student Tre Vaugn, who darted between a row of cars stopped on Eastern Avenue and ran into the path of an oncoming van. In January 2007, a 9-year-old Elmer Avenue student suffered a cut to her head as she was hit by a van when she crossed the street.

Giammusso said it is too early to talk about the cost. He added that it could involve resource sharing, for example, with school officials buying equipment and the police department doing enforcement, or the city could purchase additional electronic signs if the school pays for the electricity.

These projects can get complicated very quickly, Giammusso said. It is not as easy as just installing a signal somewhere. Officials have to understand what the effect of changing a signal at one intersection would be on other intersections. They will work with John Coluccio, the city’s signals superintendent.

This initiative grew out of a request the schools made to the police department to look at how crossing guards are positioned throughout the city. Police department spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen said speed is one of the main concerns.

“With the nicer weather, more people tend to walk to pick up their kid than drive. You tend to have more pedestrian traffic around this time. It’s more important to keep your speed at 15 [mph],” he said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply