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New Lebanon pedestrian deaths raise safety questions

Sep 15, 2023 12:55 pm

Patrick Tine reports for the Times Union that some people are raising concerns about pedestrian safety on Route 20 near the Lebanon Valley Speedway after a Massachusetts couple in their 70s were struck and killed in the crosswalk near the track on Sept. 9. State Police have not cited the so-far unnamed driver of a 2019 Subaru who hit the couple, and they say she has been cooperating with their investigation. James Close remembers a 2018 when he was traveling west on Route 20. “The next thing I know — thank God I was paying attention — there were these people walking across the road and I was a microsecond away from hitting them,” Close said. He slammed on his brakes and, “They didn’t even seem to react.... I don’t think they even knew that this car was bearing down on them.” There are pedestrian crossing signs with flashing lights on both sides of the crosswalk. New Lebanon Town Supervisor Tistrya Houghtling said that she has not heard about problems at that location, but has heard from residents about other portions of the road. Houghtling said, “We have had a lot of concerns raised about the section of Route 20 right before the speedway near (Walter B. Howard Elementary School).... Pretty consistently, at least over the last three-and-a-half years, I have heard concerns about how fast cars go.” In February the Depertment of Transportation rejected a request to lower the speed limit from 45 mph in front of Walter B. Howard Elementary School on Route 20 and to set up a school speed zone around New Lebanon Junior/Senior High School. The DOT released a statement after the couple's deaths near the speedway saying, “Safety is always the top priority for the New York State Department of Transportation. Given that this tragic incident in the town of New Lebanon remains the subject of an ongoing law enforcement investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.” And Lebanon Valley Speedway owner Howard Commander did not respond to requests for comment. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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