$720K for safety and traffic flow at Routes 20 & 60

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a sizable chunk of change for upgrades to improve safety and traffic flow at one of the busiest intersections in Chautauqua County.

As part of a nearly $76 million initiative for road safety projects across the state, a total of $720,000 will go toward fixing up the intersection of Route 20 and Route 60 at the edge of the village of Fredonia.

This project was the only one in Western New York of its kind announced in a news release sent by Cuomo’s office Tuesday afternoon; a total of 33 projects across the state are being funded through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.

“Strengthening vital infrastructure across the state is critically important to ensuring the safety of our communities, both today and for future generations,” Cuomo stated. “With these projects, we are providing modern safety improvements that benefit everyone on the road, from drivers to bicyclists and pedestrians. Working alongside our partners in the federal government, our administration will continue to upgrade essential transportation networks in every corner of the state in order to make our communities safer for all.”

According to Cuomo, projects for this highway safety funding are selected through a competitive process designed to support initiatives that have “the greatest ability to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries.”

The Routes 20 and 60 intersection will be reconstructed to improve safety and traffic flow. New lighting and sidewalks will also be installed, though additional details are currently hazy as to what exactly the entire list of upgrades consists of.

Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe speculated one possibility with the funds could be a roundabout, though that remains unclear. He added he would like to see the intersection receive increased pedestrian and bicycle safety when actually crossing the street.

“That intersection is hazardous to anyone trying to cross it on foot or on their bikes,” he pointed out. “There’s just not a safe way to do it.”

The New York State Department of Transportation will handle many of the 33 projects, including the one in Fredonia. State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, referred to Chautauqua County being included in these projects as “a great achievement.”

“I am thrilled that we were able to secure this funding to upgrade the intersection,” she said. “There is a great deal of traffic in the area, which causes congestion and headaches. Safety issues have arisen because of its proximity to Fredonia Central School, and this funding will help protect students from harm, especially because of the new sidewalks and lighting.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed called Cuomo’s initiative “critical to jobs in our area and a fair investment for the taxpayers whose dollars are going to care for our local roads.”

“Our aging rural roads and bridges cannot be overlooked and we will continue to work with Gov. Cuomo to make improvements a reality for the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” he stated in the news release.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand agreed with Reed and added investing in transportation infrastructure is “one of the fastest, most effective ways to boost our local economy.” She also said safer streets are critical to protecting children, seniors and pedestrians.

County Executive Vince Horrigan applauded Cuomo’s efforts to fund improvements to the local area’s infrastructure. He added he is committed to expanding the number of passing lanes on Route 60, which he recently referred to as the “highway of death,” by working with state leaders through additional DOT funding to support safety and economic development across the county.

A call to state DOT Public Information Officer Susan Surdej after regular office hours should be returned to the OBSERVER today with potentially more details about what may happen to the 20 and 60 intersection, as well as a possible timeline for construction.

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