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Traffic Lights

The Town of Lansing (outside of the Village) has two traffic signals.  The one at the T-intersection of East Shore Drive (NYS Route 34) and Ridge Road (NYS Route 34B) had red/yellow/green traffic signals, while the one where Peruville Road (34B) crosses Triphammer Road flashed red at a four-way-stop intersection.  A change to red/yellow/green signals at the Triphammer intersection had been hinted at by town officials for years, but nothing happened.  Last year hefty looking poles were erected.  But no lights.  Townspeople wondered whether there would really be new traffic lights.  Elementary, my dear townspeople... construction this week has solved the mystery.

"The projects -- which are part of a statewide signal contract including work in other areas of the state -- were planned to take two constructions seasons, with pole installation last fall and signal installation and activation this summer," says New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Public Information Officer Curtis Jetter.

The projects are part of a wider initiative to replace aging lights and make changes to intersections because of increased traffic.  The  $1,841,973 state-wide project is reported to be on budget, and on time.

Jetter says that the East Shore lights are simply being replaced with newer technology.  But the 'mystery' lights are expected to improve traffic flow and safety.  Anyone who has driven north on Triphammer Road during rush hour knows traffic backs up considerably there.  The intersection is one of the busiest in the county because of the large number of workers in Tompkins County that commute from neighboring counties.  Tompkins County estimates more than 15,000 in-commuters come from the regions outside Tompkins County, with over 4,000 Tompkins County residents commuting to other counties.  A NYSDOT traffic study found that 3-color signals would improve traffic flow and safety at the Triphammer/34B intersection, thus prompting the switch.

NYSDOT is responsible for the traffic signals because the two intersections are on state roads.  The new lights have back plates that increase their visibility.  While some NYSDOT traffic lights are remotely controlled, the signal timing at the two Lansing installations will be controlled by an on-site signal cabinet.

Town officials have discussed future traffic mitigation at the newly formed intersection of Auburn Road (34B) and Woodsedge Drive and Louise Bement Lane which is located between the two traffic light installations.  Again, that determination is under NYSDOT jurisdiction.  The NYSDOT Web site says that its Long Island division alone receives over 1,000 requests for traffic lights per year.  When a request is made, a NYSDOT engineer evaluates the site under strict criteria:

  • Does the accident history of the area indicate that a traffic signal will reduce the probability of collisions?
  • Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street try to cross when it is unsafe?
  • Is there a significant number of school children crossing at the specific location to justify special control for their safety, and, if so, is a traffic signal the right choice?
  • Does the number of pedestrians at the specific intersection create confusion, congestion or hazardous conditions?
  • Are there so many cars on each street that a signal is needed to clear up confusion or relieve congestion?
  • Would a traffic signal help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without having to stop unnecessarily?
  • Is there a combination of any of the above criteria which indicates that a signal would be an improvement?

That makes it unlikely that there will be a traffic signal at the new intersection any time soon, but Town officials have discussed their hope that crosswalks will be allowed there.

Meanwhile, the mystery of the missing traffic lights has been solved.

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