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Safety Assessments

Transportation Council
Eoin Wrafter, Commissioner

 

Mark Debald, Transportation Program Administrator


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines a Safety Assessment as a formal safety examination of an existing or planned transportation facility (e.g. road, intersection, sidewalk, or trail) by an independent, multi-disciplinary team of stakeholders (Safety Assessment Team). Regardless of where they are done or by whom, Safety Assessments strive to address potential safety issues and identify solutions that improve the safety of all road users – whether a walker, bicyclist, bus passenger, or driver. FHWA promotes the use of Safety Assessments as a cost effective tool to improve roadway safety. However, a Safety Assessment is not a quality control measure for reviewing a proposed design. With these tenets in mind, Safety Assessments attempt to answer three basic questions:

  1. What elements of the road may present a safety concern: to what extent, to which road users, and under what circumstances?
  2. What opportunities exist to eliminate or mitigate identified safety concerns?
  3. Are there low cost solutions or countermeasures that would improve safety?
     

In 2012 the Council initiated a program of Safety Assessments to improve conditions on high-crash, County-owned highways.  The impetus for this was two-fold: 1) a desire to leverage staff knowledge and federal planning funds to assist local communities and improve safety, and 2) a response to research conducted by the FHWA through its RSA program, and the New York State Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (NYSAMPO) through its Safety Assessment Guidelines. To date, the Council has completed four assessments:
 

  1. CR9 (Beekman Rd) in the Town of Beekman
  2. CR16 (North Quaker Ln) in the Town of Hyde Park
  3. CR19 (Slate Quarry Rd) in the Town of Rhinebeck
  4. Main St./Innis Ave./Worral Ave. in the City of Poughkeepsie
     

The Council chose these locations based on an analysis of crash data from the NYS Accident Location Information System (ALIS) database and input from the Dutchess County Department of Public Works (DCDPW) and local municipalities. The three locations, all with above average crash rates, have provided the Council with an excellent opportunity to apply the Safety Assessment process at the local level. The Safety Assessments adhere to the guidelines set forth in the 2008 NYSAMPO Safety Assessment Guidelines.

CR 9 (Beekman Road) Safety Assessment - Town of Beekman

The Council initiated its Safety Assessment program with a focus on this 1.5 mile segment of Beekman Rd, which had experienced over 67 crashes from 2008-2011. The Council and project consultant, relying on a Team that included representatives from DCDPW, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Beekman, and NYSDOT, completed the assessment over a three-day period in late October 2012. The Team identified low-cost, high-impact improvements to address safety issues related to speeding, narrow lanes and shoulders, horizontal and vertical alignments, limited sight distances, and wet-weather crashes. The assessment produced a menu of improvements that ranged from short-term solutions such as installing new warning signs, remarking pavement, and trimming trees to long-term items such as reconfiguring intersections and repaving curves. Perhaps due in part to DCDPW’s work on some of these improvements, an analysis of 2013 crash data indicated that crashes decreased by 25 percent since the assessment.
 Please see the Final CR 9 (Beekman Rd) Safety Assessment Report (.pdf) and the CR 9 (Beekman Rd) Safety Assessment Presentation (.pdf) for more information.

CR 16 (North Quaker Lane) Safety Assessment - Town of Hyde Park

Based on the success with Beekman Rd, the Council conducted a similar assessment of North Quaker Ln in Hyde Park, focusing on a ¼ mile segment from Forest Dr to Fallkill Rd. This short section witnessed 34 crashed from 2008-2012, resulting in 13 injuries. Relying on a Team with representatives from DCDPW, the Town Board, and Town Highway and Police Departments, the Council completed the assessment in November 2013. Through its field work and the RSA checklist, the Team identified issues involving vehicle speeds, narrow shoulders, horizontal and vertical curves, limited sight distances, and wet‐weather crashes. In turn the Team developed a variety of short-term improvements such as lowering the speed limit to 45 mph, repositioning existing warning signs, installing new signs, replacing worn guiderails, and improving sight distances – DCDPW has already acted on many of these suggestions.
 Please see the Final CR 16 (North Quaker Ln) Report (.pdf) for more information.

 

CR 19 (Slate Quarry Rd) Safety Assessment - Town of Rhinebeck

The Council’s third assessment dealt with a one-mile segment of Slate Quarry Rd from Route 9G to White Schoolhouse Rd. A winding, two-lane rural road, the segment experienced 59 crashes from 2009-2013, which resulted in one fatality and 26 injuries. Over the course of two-days in October 2014, a Team comprised of staff from the Council, DCDPW, NY State Police, County Sheriff’s Office, Rhinebeck Village Police Department, and Rhinebeck Town Highway Department, completed the assessment. Again, using observations from its field work and the RSA program, the Team developed a set of recommended short-term improvements that included improved shoulders, consistent signage, sightline improvements, and remarking the White Schoolhouse Rd intersection, which experienced a high share of crashes. The Team also identified long-term improvements such as realigning curves and physically reconfiguring the White Schoolhouse Rd intersection. DCDPW is currently developing a work plan to implement some of the recommendations. Please see the Final CR 19 (Slate Quarry Rd) Report (.pdf) for more information.

Main St./Innis Ave./Worrall Ave. Intersection Safety Assessment - City of Poughkeepsie

The Council conducted an assessment of the Main & Worrall/Innis intersection in April 2017, in collaboration with the City of Poughkeepsie Departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, and Engineering, along with the city's Community Development Coordinator. This location had one of the highest crash rates for a local (not State-controlled) intersection in Dutchess County, experiencing 44 crashes between 2011-2015 that resulted in 15 reportable injuries. Crashes involving pedestrains and bicyclists were a particular area of concern for this location. The assessment team identified several issues at the intersection and made short- and long-term improvement suggestions, including realigning lanes on Main St,  relocating the bus stop, retiming traffic signals, installing pedestrian signals, restriping crosswalks, and installing bicycle signage. Please see the Final Main-Worrall Safety Assessment Report (.pdf) for more information.


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