The state Department of Transportation is planning to invest $1 million to study the potential of changing the city’s traffic patterns.
The DOT is planning to pay for the study with money already slated for upgrading 13 traffic signals along routes 5 and 30, said Alice Romanych, DOT spokeswoman for Region 2.
“The intent right now is to change some of the traffic patterns so there will be some two-way streets around downtown to make it more accessible,” Romanych said.
Downtown’s inaccessibility is a large obstacle to attracting business to the area, according to Amsterdam-Florida-Glen Empire Zone director Fred Quist.
“Returning traffic to East Main Street and Route 5 will do a lot to improve the marketability of the stores along East Main Street,” Quist said. “More traffic equals more business.”
With the advent of urban renewal and the construction of the current Riverfront Center, the city’s main thoroughfares were demolished and new traffic patterns designed to move traffic swiftly through the city were created.
The design was successful in moving traffic; however, it made it virtually impossible to reach the downtown area.
Mayor Ann Thane approached DOT representatives about a year ago, Romanych said, asking them to study the feasibility of rerouting the city’s traffic to make the downtown areas more accessible.
Changing the city’s traffic patterns was part of the comprehensive plan adopted in 2003, Thane said.
Romanych said the DOT used the information gathered for signal upgrades to determine that a portion of Route 5, which flows only westbound, could be altered to include an eastbound lane.
Romanych said the DOT is now going to use the money allocated to upgrade signals to conduct a more in-depth study of the traffic patterns in the city to determine whether trucks will be able to make the turns and whether any other major problems will be caused by the changes.
“We need to make sure everything is safe and efficient and not cause other types of major problems. The preliminary investigation shows it’s feasible,” she said.
The signal project was scheduled to begin this summer but will probably be delayed now because “this is a much bigger event,” Romanych said.
The DOT hasn’t finalized the total cost of the project, but Romanych said she isn’t expecting the money to come from the city because the project will involve state roads.