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Highway Departments, police, discuss safety concerns at Lewis courthouse crosswalk

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LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Highway Department’s quarterly safety meeting Tuesday morning ran longer than normal, with discussion focused on the safety of the offset intersection in front of the courthouse in light of a recent vehicle-pedestrian accident.

“This most recent accident wasn’t terribly bad,” village Police Chief Eric F. Fredenburg said of the incident, which occurred in September, when a female county employee was legally crossing in the crosswalk on State Street, a state road, when she was struck by the mirror of a turning pickup truck.

Chief Fredenburg said the truck driver also was turning legally, but believes the pedestrian was in the driver’s blind spot.

“It’s a weird intersection,” he said. He noted the crosswalk is 100 feet from the corner on Trinity Avenue. “Drivers need to be extra cautious,” he said.

The pedestrian was the second county employee struck by a vehicle outside the courthouse. In 2008, another employee was hit in the Trinity Avenue crosswalk, requiring treatment at Lewis County General Hospital.

Issues were discussed with representatives from the state Department of Transportation, as well as Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli, though not much can be done to alter the layout of the intersection.

“Offset intersections, while not ideal, are a fact of life,” said Michael R. Flick, DOT public information officer. “For motorists and pedestrians using the intersections, they need to pay attention, be mindful and use the signals,” he said.

A second offset intersection is just north on State Street at Bostwick Street, but has less pedestrian traffic than the courthouse intersection.

Lewis County Highway Superintendent David L. Becker said the meetings are an avenue to discuss any issues different departments may have. Representatives from the area school transportation departments, town highway departments, state police and the Amish community are part of the group that meets four times a year.

“We review anything anyone wants to bring up,” Mr. Becker said. “The focus is safety.”

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