Hudson Valley advocates in Washington, DC lobbying for traffic safety project funding

Most of the visiting advocates have loved ones who were killed in traffic crashes.

Ben Nandy

May 15, 2024, 10:03 PM

Updated 10 days ago

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Some local road safety advocates are finishing up at a summit in Washington, D.C. with top federal transportation officials, pushing traffic safety policies and projects to prevent the pedestrian deaths like the incidents News 12 has been regularly reporting on.
A white "ghost bike" memorial to John "Host" Lynch is still standing on Washington Avenue just east of the Kingston Thruway exit following Lynch's death at 57. Lynch, an avid bicyclist, was hit and killed by a car in July 2021.
Now his partner, Rose Quinn, of Kingston, is a traffic safety activist.
Quinn joined 178 others from around the country in Washington D.C. for this week's Capitol Hill Roadway Safety Advocacy Days.
Most of the visiting advocates have loved ones who were killed in traffic crashes.
"There's a reason why we were asked to do this," Quinn said in a Zoom interview with her and two other advocates from her hotel room Wednesday morning. "That's because we have this terrible lived experience."
The advocates are lobbying federal transportation officials including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and federal lawmakers, including Sen. Chuck Schumer to expand the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021.
The program provides grants for street safety projects nationwide.
The advocates are also trying to persuade Washington officials to remove barriers to the funding faced by smaller municipalities with smaller budgets.
To apply for certain projects, local governments must commission costly extensive traffic studies, which may discourage them from applying.
Quinn said she has noticed increased urgency among transportation officials to calm traffic along certain roads.
"It's just – you can't even justify it," she said of the previous underinvestment in pedestrian safety. "There's no way to justify it anymore. We know what we need to do."
Walkers and bicyclists along Washington Ave said it is tough just to walk to work.
"I'll wait for like 10 minutes before I can cross the street, for real," neighbor Saleena Ferraiuolo said. "I don't like that."
Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said she is optimistic about a grant application to the New York state Transportation Alternatives Program for a new traffic signal and cross walk on Washington Avenue near a popular trail for walkers and bicyclists.
Quinn hopes Metzger can secure some of the federal funds, too.
When asked about the five children hit by cars in the Spring Valley area in the first five months of 2024, the advocates said traffic calming projects may be necessary.
They said rumble strips, narrower streets and intelligent speed assistance in buses to prevent speeding could help.
"Those are the kinds of systemic changes that are needed," advocate Amy Cohen said.
News 12 asked Spring Valley officials several times over the last week what traffic safety measures they might be considering following the string of accidents, two of which were fatal.
They have not yet provided a response.


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