Yesterday morning an empty tanker tried to turn onto or off of the east leg of Watson Road. I couldn’t get close enough to actually see what happened, but the tanker was half on Watson and half on Route 15 below the connector at the caution light. Apparently, the tanker’s wheels got stuck in the mud and somehow ended up in the ditch next to the Green Shingles. Rt. 15 traffic was tied up for about an hour.
Background: After the First Mile opened and the Kuhl Road Detour shut down to Rt. 15 traffic, but remained open for local access to Lawrenceville there remained a steady flow of semi’s on Kuhl, Watson and sometimes Lindley Roads.
Problem # 1 with this situation: NYSDOT ran a computer model and discovered the curve (because of the tight radius) on the Watson section couldn’t safely handle two semi’s passing without clipping each other. To correct this hazardous problem NYSDOT separated the northbound and southbound Rt.15 traffic on the Kuhl Road Detour while the First Mile four lane was connected to the existing Route 15 two lane. This condition with the Watson curve still exists, but we still have semi’s entering and exiting from Watson even though the Town posted “10 Ton Weight Limit” signs at both ends.
Problem # 2: Turning left (east) onto Watson creates a “sitting duck” situation because the northbound traffic lane coming off the connector is the same lane you’re sitting in waiting to turn, only visually separated by yellow slash lines painted on the pavement. And the caution light has become nothing more than a Christmas light decorating the intersection to the speeding trucks and cars “funneling” onto the two lane. I pray the “get over” prayer when I’m the sitting duck.
Problem # 3: Also, turning left onto Watson at night is particularly dangerous—again, because of the sharp radius of the curve and dark condition at the approach. Reflectors can be placed to mark the approach, but the curve is unfixable. Negotiating the turn when a semi is approaching Rt. 15 from Watson to turn northbound or southbound is cumbersome.
There’s a certain inevitability of a catastrophic event at the Watson intersection, as there have been several “near misses” reported in the past weeks and the roads have been dry. Winter weather with icy/snowy roads only increases the chances of an accident. (Case in point: at this writing—6:41 p.m. the Lindley-Presho Fire Department is on scene dealing with four snow/ice related accidents at the Watson intersection and on the connector.)
Town officials are actively working with NYSDOT to correct the unsafe conditions at the Watson intersection. Currently, we are discussing the possibility of closing off both ends of Watson and removing the left hand turning lane on Rt. 15 to eliminate the dangerous conditions that are certain to cause accidents.