Open Letter to Town Of Oneonta, NY on Big-Time Southside Traffic Backup
I have lived in the City of Oneonta most of my life and of course, it’s changed over the years. Some of the biggest changes can be seen in the Town of Oneonta on the Southside where quite a bit of development has occurred over several years.
I'll start with one of the biggest traffic pattern catalysts that Oneonta has seen and it happened in 1983 when the Southside Mall opened on Route 23. The Pyramid Mall, which had been the only other mall in Oneonta at that time, and located on Rt. 7, was on a slow decline and eventually closed for good in October of 1993. Needless to say, I can remember how the traffic on Southside Oneonta changed dramatically when the Southside Mall opened but that’s nothing compared to what it is today since so many businesses have been added to the Southside since that time.
As I drive along Southside, I reminisce and laugh to myself about how we all thought that the traffic on Rt. 23 was much greater with the Mall opening and I can remember my parents grumbling about the “heavy” traffic, I can’t help but think about how easy it was back then and we didn’t know it, we were just comparing it to what had been before.
That same thing is happening all over again as I realize I have become my parents, grumbling about the traffic on the Southside of Oneonta these days although, I do need to point out that the timing of the lights seems to have changed and mostly, not for the better. I ask the Town, can anything be done to improve the flow of traffic?
On Friday, during lunchtime, I was heading the store after work and it seemed to take me much longer to travel down Southside after entering from Main Street. The traffic was backed up from the Home Depot all the way to Walmart! People were stuck in the middle of every intersection, blocking anyone from entering. Is it me or has the timing of the traffic lights changed? One thing for sure is that the green arrow when turning left from Rt. 23 (McDonalds intersection) onto Lettis Highway is definitely longer. I’m not sure how many cars it now lets through but before the change, it only allowed three cars through it, and trust me, I counted every time since I was so annoyed and find myself in that left turning lane frequently. That is a major improvement but the timing of all the other lights seem off and a big-time traffic backup is a regular thing now.
Are there more people out and about? Probably. I know that this time of year with people doing holiday shopping, there certainly can be an increase in traffic so I am allowing for that but after paying attention to the chain of 5 lights along Southside, they don’t seem to match up. I ask the Town of Oneonta “powers that be” look into this to improve traffic movement. I say this with the knowledge that it’s likely that there is probably nothing significant that can be done since most likely, computers linked to those same traffic lights are operating the timing as efficiently as possible and that the main problem is the volume of vehicles.
No doubt, the only real fix for travel efficiency along this route is increasing the width of the road to add two more lanes – one for each side. Since the Town didn’t plan ahead for this kind of volume originally, I don’t see how they could widen the road all along the route so we’re left with focusing on patience I guess. Sigh. One thing I do know through experience, we’ll all get used to the slow traffic crawl, since we got used to the major increase in traffic when the Southside Mall opened. Just make sure you plan for that since if you think you're going to get anywhere fast on the Southside, you're in for an unwelcome surprise.