The section of Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh between Consumer Square and the Northway entrance is certainly one of the area’s busiest roadways. That is why it is essential that traffic move smoothly and safely through the intersections there.
That is not always happening now, and the State Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the roads there, needs to get involved.
A reader recently complained to us about the Smithfield Boulevard intersection with the entranceway for the plaza that houses Price Chopper, Lowe’s, K-mart and other stores. The person wrote: “Coming out of the Lowe’s shopping plaza heading west toward the highway entrance, I’ve seen so many close-call accidents as locals have to rush to get off the turn-only lanes for the highway.”
He suggested that lane markers be added to guide people to the proper lanes. If people knew while still on Route 3 to get in the left lane to go south on the Northway and the left lane to go north, fewer last-minute lane switches would occur.
A dangerous situation exists at the bank of lights at the plaza intersection with Smithfield. Drivers leaving the parking lot and turning right to head east on Route 3 sometimes get a green light at the same time that pedestrians get a “Walk” signal. That means people are sometimes crossing the street right into the path of turning cars.
“Also, is it so hard to have straight lanes as we drive through the intersections of Route 3 and Smithfield or Route 3 and the highway entrance light?” the reader asked. “What is with the curved line heading east onto Route 3 by the Stewart’s and Mobil as we’re leaving Morrisonville?”
It is also noticeable, when traveling west on Route 3 to turn on to the Northway, that the traffic-light arrows are slightly out of alignment with the lanes.
And it is hard to know where to start when talking about the issues with the Consumer Square entranceway. The lanes that take you from Route 3 into the plaza would be confusing enough for people not familiar with the area, but a bigger challenge awaits once you hit the end of that first section and have to decide whether to head straight toward Wal-Mart or turn right or left. That plaza intersection, though improved over its original design, would still baffle the best driver. You are practically taking your life in your hands if you want to turn left — or if you hope to enter that intersection from the left (leaving Staples, for example).
A number of accidents have occurred at the Smithfield and Consumer Square intersections, partially due to the challenging lane situation and the lack of clear signage. But DOT is usually reluctant to make alterations without research providing hard evidence of problems.
We urge DOT officials to do a thorough review of those active intersections. They could likely be improved with simple changes in signage.