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Capital Region News

Cohoes Ramps Up 787 Safety Enhancements

Former Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Pedestrian safety has been priority one for Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse in the weeks since a teenage girl was struck and killed trying to cross 787.

When a teenage pedestrian was killed crossing the dangerous highway that runs through his Hudson River city in June, Mayor Morse said enough is enough.   "I struggle every single day thinking about 787 and the kids crossing that highway."

In early July, he expedited change that added a layer of safety along the busy highway that intersects the Spindle City. Push buttons installed at each crosswalk at the intersection of 787 and Bridge Street halt traffic in all four directions, handing control of the intersection over to pedestrians, giving walkers 35 seconds to cross in all directions.

Now come additional signals and enhancements: 32 signals in all will be installed along 787 in Cohoes by the end of next week. "I'm excited that we've got this far this quick. I believe if you follow the safety precautions that we've provided, we have the safest 787 we've ever had."

Morse and state Department of Transportation officials were back at 787 Thursday demonstrating the upgrades.  Now people can hear and see that the devices are working, and safely make their way from one side of the highway to another. New York State DOT Region 1 Director Sam Zhou tells NewsChannel 13 "It gives you a buzz. Then also the signal lit up, OK, alerting the pedestrian that the signal is working."

Morse adds  "There was some disappointment yesterday when I stood there, announcing the safety buttons being installed. We had kids who just rode out in the middle of the road, kids who crossed and got stuck in the middle of the road. When we shared our concerns with them, they basically said 'I ain't pushin' no button, we don't care,' and kept walkin.’"

That exchange has encouraged Morse to broaden the city's educational campaign. "We spent all summer teaching kids in our recreational programs about the safety and the button. I'm working with Dr. Spring from the school district and we're talking about having a field trip in the first few weeks of school where we're bringin' all the kids down there and show them how to use the button."

And what about those who still don't abide by the rules? "There comes a point after we spend enough time tryin' to educate 'em if thay don't do it, then we have to do something, and if that's giving 'em a ticket that makes them come to the court with their parents, to ensure that their parents are makin' sure that they teach their kid, then that's what we're gonna have to do."

Morse is also determined to bring traffic calming to 787 by making it a boulevard...  DOT's Zhou says a reconfigured 787 would feature similar lighting, curbing, media and signage that motorists encounter along Route 9 in Saratoga Springs, which transitions as it heads into downtown.  Morse confirms his police have written hundreds of speeding tickets this summer.

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