Editor’s Note: The section of state highway that descends a hill to the Apple Barrel Country Store is Route 30, not Route 30A, as stated in a story in Friday’s paper.
SCHOHARIE — State Route 30 is the main north-south route through Schoharie County, and basically everyone who travels in the county is familiar with it.
The roadway briefly leaped into national headlines in October 2018 when a horrific limousine crash at Routes 30 and 30A killed 20 people — but apart from that, officials say there’s concern about the safety of the two-lane road, which runs like an artery through the middle of the Schoharie Valley, all the way to Greene County.
“Right from the village to Middleburgh through to Central Bridge and the I-88 intersection, there’s been a multitude of accidents over the years, some of them fatal,” said state Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie
Tague and state Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta, have announced they will hold a “listening forum” on Route 30 safety concerns from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Schoharie firehouse, 114 Fort Road, Schoharie.
The goal is to bring the general public, county and local departments of public works and elected officials together and to gather information that can be presented to the state Department of Transportation, Tague said.
“All the information that we gather will be given to DOT for what they want to do with it,” he said.
Tague said there are public concerns apart from the limousine crash site, though the intersection where that crash occurred had become known for runaway truck accidents to the point where DOT banned heavy trucks from using that section of Route 30, which comes down a long hill to a stop sign.
Some of the families of the limousine crash victims have taken steps toward suing the state over the intersection. DOT officials have declined to comment on litigation or release information on any safety reviews of the intersection, saying that remains part of the state and federal investigations into the limousine crash.
DOT has, however, said the intersection’s design doesn’t appear to have been a factor in the crash, in which prosecutors say the limousine’s brakes failed as it came down the Route 30A hill. Limousine company operator Nauman Hussain is scheduled to face trial in Schoharie County Court in May on manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.
Tague said that intersection is only one aspect of the safety concerns about the road, which is among the busiest in the county.
State Department of Transportation figures show that about 7,300 vehicles per day use the three-mile section of Route 30 between the village of Schoharie and I-88, with the number rising over time. The route is used by some county residents commuting to the Capital Region, or to the Cobleskill and Oneonta areas. Farther south, more than 4,700 vehicles per day use the five-mile stretch between the villages of Schoharie and Middleburgh.
“There are more businesses and residents on that road than there were 30 or 40 years ago. There’s a lot of school buses,” Tague said. “A lot of the rural upstate highways were designed in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, but a lot has changed since then.”
Tague said he expects a significant public turnout, and to hear from people whose views range from a desire to reduce speed limits to those who feel no change is needed. “We’re not there to say who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s to compile information on the concerns of people who travel that road every day,” he said.