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Public hearings tackle traffic woes at Lowville Academy

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LOWVILLE — A public hearing held last week in the village will be continued next week, as officials from the village, Lowville Academy and village police attempt to solve congestion and safety issues concerning traffic at the school.

Twice a day, vehicles line up to drop off or pick up students at the designated loop off State Street that continues on a one-way path that returns to State Street via Davenport Place.

“You hit the nail on the head,” Police Chief Eric C. Fredenburg said, when asked if a multitude of minor problems has created the perfect storm for drivers, causing backups in traffic through the intersection to the north at Bostwick Street and to the south at Trinity Avenue.

Last year, during the village’s downtown road construction project, the four lanes in front of the school were reduced to two lanes.

“It went to one lane in each direction. It made it safer for those in the crosswalk,” Chief Fredenburg said. “There’s less chance of a car coming up next to another and passing into the crosswalk.”

That reduction, however, took away a turn lane into the school loop. It’s that loop that poses more complications.

“It’s a narrow pathway,” Lowville Academy and Central School District Superintendent Cheryl R. Steckly said. “There’s parking on both sides.”

While some drivers unload or pick up children throughout the pathway, others wait until they are at the door to do so.

An attempt to extend a stretch along the right-hand curb for drivers to pull over and load or unload was thwarted after snow came. That stretch has marked parking spaces, but cones were used to block them off temporarily.

“That improved the situation some, but we couldn’t use cones once it snowed because of the plows,” Mrs. Steckly said.

Drivers are hesitant to drop off next to the parked cars, not knowing whether the car is actually parked or dropping off passengers as well.

“Spring should alleviate some of these concerns,” she said.

As the school-owned loop continues past the school building, it becomes Davenport Place, a village street.

The village fielded multiple complaints asking to have the backups on State Street addressed. “We began discussing making Davenport a right turn only,” Mayor Donna M. Smith said.

The rule would apply only to drop-off and pickup times at the school.

The village board also heard from community members saying they believed the congestion was caused by the crossing guard on State Street.

After listening to complaints that the crossing guard was stopping traffic unnecessarily for extended periods, Chief Fredenburg addressed those concerns.

“I think that problem has been ironed out,” he said.

The village will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the municipal offices, 5535 Bostwick St.

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