Legislators air concerns about safety of troubled stretch of Route 7
HOOSICK, N.Y. -- County legislators renewed calls this week for a safety review of state Route 7 in Hoosick, the site of multiple fiery crashes in recent years. But a similar review by the state Department of Transportation in 2011 determined there was appropriate signage along the route.
"We will be following up," said Bryan Viggiani, a Capital Region representative for the state DOT. In a telephone interview Friday, Viggiani said an "extensive safety review" in 1999 prompted the state to augment signage on Route 7, between Babcock Lake Road and Route 22, to improve safety and increase warnings for motorists. Those additions included hill warning signs and "Chevron signs," or reflective directional arrow markers, at certain curves.
Since the beginning of 2009, including a tanker truck accident Feb. 13, Viggiani tallied 17 accidents involving trucks; none of which were fatal. Over the same time period, there were 171 accidents total -- which means trucks comprised 10 percent of accidents while making up 13 percent of all traffic according to DOT statistics.
The accident rate for all vehicles along that stretch of Route 7 is 1.68 accidents per million vehicle miles, according to Viggiani, below the statewide expected rate of 2.57 for similar roads (two-lane rural highways).
Local representatives see concern
District 5 legislators Stan Brownell and Lester Goodermote, representatives for the town of Hoosick, said in a written release this week they were worried about the safety of that stretch of roadway following numerous accidents, the most recent of which involved a laden tanker truck carrying a combined 9,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel.
The driver of that truck, Shawn Disley, 34, of Agawam, Mass., was initially transported to Albany Medical Center with second-degree burns before being airlifted to Westchester Medical Center's burn center, where he was last reported in stable condition.
"There have been two serious incidents involving tanker trucks loaded with fuel in just the past two years," said Brownell, vice-chairman of the legislature, in the county release. "Along with those accidents, there have been many more accidents and near-misses."
Goodermote said in the release that a review could help answer concerns and point out ways to improve safety and travel along the corridor.
"Given the frequency and seriousness of these accidents, we are concerned about the safety of those who regularly travel or live on and near state Route 7," he said.
A safety review would look at lighting, speed conditions, visibility, and signage. County officials last requested a review of the snaking section of highway following a March 2011 accident involving a tanker truck carrying 19,500 gallons of liquid propane that careened down an embankment and burned overnight. That incident prompted a mile-wide evacuation of nearly 100 residents and businesses and shut down Route 7 for more than 48 hours.
Then in June 2011, a 16-passenger Southern Vermont College bus carrying area high school students crashed through a guardrail and into a utility pole, resulting in minor injuries. The last state review followed later that year.
County legislators requested an earlier safety review in 2008 following a serious of accidents in the Potter Hill area. Officials are expected to consider a third resolution in March, which if approved would be forwarded to the state DOT, governor's office, and local representatives in the state Legislature.
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