What Makes NYSDOT Region 2 A Little Bit Different
I've been hesitant to write this article for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's easy for me to yell from the cheap seats because I'm not actually "working in the trenches" at NYSDOT Region 2. Much of what I'm about to discuss could be for a number of reasons, including outside consultant work or budgetary concerns. Secondly, at one time I was studying to become a traffic engineer. I had hopes of working at NYSDOT as a traffic engineer, something that I've had a passion for since I was a young child. I'm concerned that expressing myself this way would hamper any hopes of my securing employment in this field. However, I believe that there are some safety concerns that need to be addressed and hopefully this article will spark some comment, discussion or enthusiasm in the right places.
The New York State Department of Transportation divides the Empire State into 11 different regions. In addition, each region is part of a "zone", which I believe to be a relatively new concept within NYSDOT, based on what I've been able to ascertain from their website. Of the 11 regions in the state, Region 2 (Utica) has the fewest number of freeway miles. There is one NYSDOT maintained interstate in Region 2 and that is Interstate 790, a freeway that is less than three miles in length and co-signed with other touring routes. Other freeways include:
- The Utica-Rome Expressway: comprised mostly of NY Route 49 from Griffiss Business and Technology Park to Thruway Interchange 31 in Utica. There is also an expressway portion west of Griffiss Park, which follows NY 49 to the Rome city line at the Erie Canal.
- NY Route 8 south of the City of Utica. Geometry issues prevent this freeway from a posted speed limit of 65 MPH.
- NY Route 12 north of the City of Utica. Less than 10 miles in length, this freeway "feels" like an interstate. It is currently posted at 55 MPH as well.
- NY Route 5S east of Utica into Herkimer County. Less than 15 miles in length, this freeway also "feels" like an interstate in Herkimer County. It is currently posted at 55 MPH.
Other expressways include NY Route 365 from Rome to Thruway Interchange 33, the North-South Arterial, which carries NY Route 5, 8 and 12 through the City of Utica and NY Route 840, also known as the Judd Rd Extension, which opened in summer 2005.
The research contained in this article is based on personal field observations throughout Region 2. I compare and contrast practices discussed with similar practices elsewhere in The Empire State. In addition, I refer to two texts: NYCRR Volume 17B, commonly referred to as the "NYSMUTCD" or the Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the National MUTCD with NYS State Supplement. The National MUTCD with State Supplement superceded the NYSMUTCD on September 13, 2007. I reference both texts as my observations are of devices that were installed under the NYSMUTCD and, when necessary, indicate any changes that may be necessary to bring the installation to National MUTCD guidelines.
There is a disparity between all the NYSDOT regions on determining the best way to address a traffic control device at a given situation. However, most of the regions have a similar approach to a scenario, giving a sense of "loose conformity" in The Empire State. On the other hand, Region 2 seems to have a decidedly different way of approaching a subject and at times I feel this creates motorist confusion and/or driver safety concerns.
I am hopeful that my discussion here will spark a re-evaluation of some of these areas.
This section of the site is evolving and will be updated from time to time with further observations.