After years of talking about and studying that Bank Street crosswalk — the one that's arguably a danger zone between Main and Washington — the city has plans to address it during what’s going to be a mighty busy infrastructure time beginning in mid-fall of this year, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.
The City of Batavia has committed more than $1 million for a project to help reduce the street’s girth and slow down traffic, Tabelski said. A good portion of that amount — $944,943 — will come from a state TAP grant. (See council's discussion about the grant HERE.)
“The Bank Street Corridor Streetscape project was approved as a Capital Project by City Council. The City received an NYSDOT TAP grant for a $1,113,900 project to re-align curb cuts, narrow the street for traffic calming and examine pedestrian elements such as the crosswalk," Tabelski said to The Batavian Thursday. "TYLynn has been selected by the city as the project engineer."
Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, per The Batavian’s questions, checked on crash data for the last three years, and “found zero accidents at that crosswalk and only two nearby,” he said.
“There is no way to tell if they are attributed to the crosswalk itself, though. I am thinking they are not due to their locations (one is near the intersection of Main Street, and another one is farther north),” he said Wednesday. “I do not have the ability to pull data for tickets issued specifically for that area, so I cannot get you that data specifically.
“I do not see this crosswalk in particular to be any more or less dangerous than other crosswalks in the City,” Heubusch said. “The issue with this crosswalk is that it is a mid-block crosswalk rather than at an intersection, but it is highly visible, and most everyone that travels that street knows it is there.”
His department does not have any data that supports the crosswalk being “anymore or less dangerous than others,” the chief said. “And I don’t see any others to be a large concern either.”
“I will say that we find, when responding to car/pedestrian accidents in general, that it is a mixed bag of who is at fault. Sometimes it is the pedestrian and sometimes the operator of the motor vehicle,” he said. “I do strongly support removing this particular crosswalk as it is a mid-block crosswalk, but in reality, there is no uptick in accidents caused by it, and if removed, people will cross the street there anyways.”
It's a popular location for crossing the street from the city parking lot, given the locations of the YMCA, the Jerome apartment complex, GO ART! and the Senior Center.
The city is not the only entity interested in taking action to tighten up the safety along that section of Bank Street. A county Walkability Task Force has been discussing various areas to focus on, and it seems as though the crosswalk — which is directly in front of the Senior Center — is cause for that group’s concern as well.
The task force is planning to have one or more pop-up demonstrations for being safe at this or other crosswalks later this summer. The county’s Public Health Department received a $10,000 grant as part of a Walkability Virtual Academy program to improve, as the name implies, an area’s walkability via safety for pedestrians to do so.
In addition to the TAP grant and related work done for the streetscape, the city also received a water grant of $334,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission. This funding is for a $418,000 project to replace the 6-inch waterline between Washington Avenue and Main Street with an 8-inch line.
The water project is expected to start at the same time as construction for the police station, Tabelski said. These projects have been discussed and approved during prior council meetings.
“Currently, the police station has achieved 100 percent design, and we are reviewing the final bid packages,” Tabelski said. "We have a goal to be out to bid in June, with construction starting mid-fall 2023 or early spring 2024. There will be a tremendous amount of construction activity on Bank Street with the infrastructure improvements and new (police) facility in 2024 and 2025.
“All of the projects will be coordinated, and the engineering teams will be communicating,” she said. “We hope to keep both lanes of traffic on Bank flowing as much as possible throughout the duration of construction.”