Monday, January 25, 2010
Saratoga's Highway of Death
On a cold dark night Oct. 9, 2005 Phillip Eckstein was killed while crossing Route 50 North when he was hit by a Saratoga County Sheriff's deputy ,it was his 21st birthday. That stretch of Route 50 North has been the scene of two other serious accidents involving pedestrians. Twenty-eight-year-old Melvin Jones was injured there in February 2006. In September 2006, Michael Thompson, 40, was hit and killed. The lights on the intersection had not been on when Eckstein was killed while crossing Route 50 north. The deputy was later cleared of any wrongdoing. Since Eckstein's death, his family had sued the city, county and the state on her son's behalf for the lack of lighting. I believe that case is still winding through the courts.
After these three shocking accidents the city and the state recognized the deplorable condition of this “Highway in a City”. Designed in the heyday of the countries infatuation with urban renewal and revisionist urban planning when the car was king it was purposely designed to discourage its crossing by pedestrians. It also had the effect of cutting North Broadway off from the East side of the city while putting a major highway in close proximity of Loughberry Lake. The cities only source of drinking water.
Soon the state launched the usual investigation and money was set aside for pedestrian friendly improvements along with better lighting. The problem at that time was that the money that had been set aside to make the improvements was diverted to exit 12' roundabout fiasco by the DOT Regional director T.Werner. Who was replaced by B. Rowback in 1/08 at DOT. Scuttlebutt was that Werner left over the (his) decision to transfer Route 50 development funds away from this city's exit 15 entrance to exit 12's traffic circles. Little if anything was reported regarding these disgraceful actions by the local rag the Saratogian. And like so many other problems in this city it was ignored and forgotten about, yet any mention of trails and the South Broadway entrance development has always been newsworthy.
WERE DO WE STAND TODAY?
So today, we have 32 lights out and no apparent concern? There still are no safe crosswalks and North Broadway and Skidmore is still cut off for East Side residents who don’t want to drive. It would seem that at least burnt out light bulbs could be replaced? That would be at least a low cost improvement. But remember this is Saratoga, so not so fast. There is a debate going on between DOT and DPW and National Grid as to who had the responsibility in changing light bulbs. I believe it falls onto National Grid or at the very least DOT but the DPW whose charge it is to maintain the roads (properties and buildings) has some responsibility to notify if not the proper authorities or at least, the public that "It's dangerous out there folks". But alas Skip is still pissed his new man cave in DPW Headquarters at City Hall is still short it’s “Personal Executive Assistant” and can’t be bothered to pick up the phone to call National Grid. Even if it would result in a safer city at no cost to the taxpayer. So start a paper trail Scirocco, so at least Marilyn Rivers will have something to point to because if there were to be another accident of any kind let alone a fatality, no one can claim being in the dark. It is your job Skip.
And to the fine Citizens groups trying to do something about the equally dangerous route 50 South. I applaud your work.
But all I can really say is “Good luck with that”