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Dangerous intersection gets new design

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Dangerous intersection gets new design
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Its confusing signs and odd design has frustrated drivers for years. Now the City of Ithaca is taking on the intersection of Route 79 and Mitchell Street. Tamara Lindstrom tells us why city officials are finally able to act.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The hazards of passing through this three way intersection are something city officials have heard about for years.

"This is an intersection we hear a lot about," said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. "Probably our most frequently complained about intersection."

The corner where Route 79 meets Mitchell Street is a traffic quagmire, with signs causing more confusion than direction.

"It's complicated,” Myrick said. "It's a very complicated intersection because the majority of the traffic is going up the hill and to the left. So we don't have stop signs where people expect stop signs. We have a stop sign and a yield sign where people don't always notice the yield sign. And because of the location of the yield sign, anyone coming down the hill from Mitchell Street actually thinks the yield sign is for them and stops where they're not supposed to stop, which causes rear-end collisions and confusion."

Here's how the intersection works: Cars going up 79 don't have to stop, even if they're turning left. Cars coming down Mitchell and turning right don't have to stop. Cars coming down 79 have to stop and then yield. And pedestrians are pretty much on their own.

"It can be tricky at times when there's a lot of traffic, because, as you can see, there's a ton of cars. And with not a lot of sidewalk there, it's tough to get across," said Cornell University student Coit Hendley.

The recent addition of the Collegetown Terrace apartments is adding more foot traffic to the treacherous intersection. Until now, Myrick says, there wasn't a whole lot that could be done due to a lack of space. But developers of the new apartment complex have donated part of their land, allowing for the street to expand.

"We are going to be able to add a traffic signal and some new crosswalks, some better bike lanes and a left hand turn lane," Myrick said. "So people are still going to be able to move quickly up the hill and toward campus."

Making a safer trek for drivers as well as those on foot.

Construction is planned for next fall. The project will cost about $400,000. Cornell University has agreed to pitch in $150,000.

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