Last year, the New York State Department of Transportation studied traffic running through the intersection of Routes 357 and 28 at the bottom of Franklin Mountain. In the last decade, there were 35 accidents (excluding collisions with deer) — ten times the accident rate at similar intersections. Contributing to these accidents is the limited visibility toward the intersection from the tight curves of Route 28 heading north, and Route 28/357 heading west.
The DOT has proposed two safer reconstructions: a T-intersection, with Route 28 coming down the mountain to end at Route 357, which would curve into Route 28 going toward Delhi. Or a one lane roundabout – see the diagrams at right.
Roundabouts are smaller than traffic circles, and vehicles circulate at the slower speed of 15 to 25 mph. Vehicles entering must yield to those already in the roundabout. There would be an inner truck apron for oversized loads. Examples of local roundabouts can be found on Riverside Drive in Broome County and Elmira Road in Tompkins.
Cost is estimated to be $800,000, with 80% coming from federal funds and 20% from the state. The T-intersection would be slightly less expensive and slightly less safe than the roundabout. Flashing warning lights were considered, but while considerably less expensive ($150,000), they have proven less effective.
Either option should fit in the existing right-of-way.
Planning for the North Franklin intersection began in 2009. A meeting to inform the public and solicit comments was held this summer at the town garage. Additional comments are welcomed and suggestions will be incorporated into tentative designs, to be presented at a second public meeting next year. The design is to be finalized in 2013, followed by bidding and a contract. Construction is to begin and be completed in 2014. Work is expected to be done without closing either route.
A group of Franklin residents feel this money could be better spent, and have started a petition objecting to the reconstruction and requesting further study. They have collected a few hundred signatures.