Listening Session Planned For Tonight On Troubled Schoharie Intersection | WAMC

Listening Session Planned For Tonight On Troubled Schoharie Intersection

Feb 6, 2020

A meeting has been called for tonight in Schoharie to discuss the safety of Route 30, where a limousine crash killed 20 people in October 2018.

On October 6, 2018, one of the deadliest automobile crashes in U.S. history occurred at the intersection of State Routes 30 and 30a between Middleburgh and State Route 7 in the town of Schoharie. Twenty people were killed when a stretch limousine barreled down a steep hill and crashed into the parking lot outside the Apple Barrel Country Store.

Tonight at the Schoharie Fire House, state Assemblyman Chris Tague and state Senator James Seward are hosting a listening forum. The Republicans say they want to hear citizens’ concerns about Route 30 firsthand.

102nd district Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie)
Credit Chris Tague

Tague is a former Schoharie town supervisor.    "Over a number of years, there has been some accidents on that route from Middleburgh all the way to the I-88 intersection. We had the limo accident, but these other incidents have occurred both before and after the limo accident. So it's not just so much because of the limo accident or just about the limo accident. It has to do with several accidents over the years, some fatalities, some serious injury, some just some fender benders."

Tague hopes to take action "before we have another accident."    "And I think we just need to take a look at the road and hear from the people that travel it every day, and get their opinion. You know, some people have said that we should slow the speed limit down. Some people have talked about maybe looking at the road and re-engineering it. These are all questions that Senator Stewart and I, we want the people to come and voice their opinion and, you know, we're going to record everybody's opinion and then go back to DOT and have a discussion with them in regard to that road and see what their opinion is."

Lawyers representing the families of several of the crash victims filed lawsuits against the operators of the vehicle involved, a repair shop, and the state. Attorney Daniel Rubin:   "Girvin & Ferlazzo has been actively investigating what role the design of Route 30 at that intersection played in the tragic Schoharie limo crash since the outset of the accident. We are happy to see that local government is now getting involved and taking the design of that road seriously. We're interested to hear what the public has to say and we hope that the combination of these two things will result in preventing any additional tragedies like the one that we saw in Schoharie."

Schoharie County Sheriff Ronald Stevens and Schoharie Town Supervisor Alan Tavenner plan to attend the forum. Here's Tavenner:   "Myself and certain number of members of the board are probably more concerned with the safety of Route 30 in the vicinity where the accident happened a couple of years ago, and the possibility of possibly dead ending the road up there as we're closest to I-88. That would probably do more for the safety of the community than these minor adjustments in the speed limit. That's  just my personal opinion."

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of 10 limousine safety bills including requiring seat belts for all passengers. Limo drivers carrying nine or more passengers must possess a passenger-endorsed commercial driver's license. Stretch limos will have to be equipped with GPS technology designed for commercial vehicles and the state create a “stretch limousine passenger safety task force,” which will undertake a comprehensive review of the industry.

The forum runs from 6 p.m. to 8 and is open to the public.