Neighbors Voice Concerns Over Route 281 Expansion Project
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Neighbors Voice Concerns Over Route 281 Expansion Project
Over 50 people attended a public information session that was held last night in connection with the next phase of the reconstruction and widening of Route 281 in Cortland.
As part of an effort to improve traffic capacity, improve safety, and accommodate better drainage the State Department of Transportation is looking to continue the process to rebuild and widen Route 281 from Luker Road to Fisher Ave. in Cortlandville.
The project calls for two travel lanes in each direction and a two way center turn lane from Luker Road to West Main Street.

At West Main, the road will narrow to one travel lane in each direction with dedicated turn lane in the middle which will stop at Fisher Ave.
Several attendees at the meeting questioned the merge point at West Main Street, with many saying widening the road only to narrow it again in that area will only make traffic and bottlenecking worse. Some residents living around the intersection said it will force drivers to speed up to jockey for position at the merge point.
DOT Engineers responded that based on traffic counts and other data a wider road beyond West Main Street is not warranted.
The project includes replacing the bridge over Dry Creek near Kinney Gulf Road, a new traffic light will be added at Kinney Gulf Road and the signals in that section will be retimed.
The project calls for 5 buildings to be torn down including the current Cannon Pools and Spas store.
Sidewalks will be added on both sides of the road from Luker to Bellevue Ave, the sidewalk will continue to Fisher Ave. on the East side of the road.
Some attendees raised concerns about trees and brush along Bellevue Ave. being removed. The plan calls for some vegetation to be restored.
Christella Yonta with the Seven Valleys Health Coalition urged the designers to consider adding dedicated bike lanes in that area to improve multi-modal access. 
DOT spokesman Gene Cilento says designers will look at the points raised, he says one of the goals based on previous public input is to improve the road while taking as little private property as possible.
The project includes a redesign of the Route 222, Groton Avenue, & 281 intersection with additional turn lanes. The Madison Street intersection would see upgrades as well.
There were plans to realign Blue Creek Road and Fisher Ave. to make that a signaled intersection but that plan has been scrapped, some residents felt a traffic light should still be added at Blue Creek Road.
The project cost is estimated at $14.7 million, with construction expected to begin in April 2015.
Phase III of the project would see the road widened slightly from Fisher Ave. to the I-81 on ramp in Homer. Cilento was unsure when the third phase may be funded.
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