The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

June 13, 2013

DOT needs to fix Chobani traffic woes

The Daily Star

---- — “Growing pains” have been invoked with regard to Chobani several times. The company is a dynamic example of the fact that, as positive and desirable as rapid growth may be for a business, it can carry with it unanticipated challenges. 

The growing pains metaphor comes to mind again as we consider the concerns over the 26 accidents that tractor-trailers traveling to or near the Chobani plant have experienced in the past few years. 

Local neighbors and area law enforcement officials have expressed their concerns about the string of wrecks. Most have not been serious, but an accident Friday sent the driver of a milk tanker with serious injuries to a hospital. 

“Something needs to be done here,” New Berlin Police Chief Domenick Commesso commented after the accident.

We couldn’t agree more. And that’s why we’re glad to see that Otsego County officials have scheduled a June 25 meeting with representatives of Chobani and the state Department of Transportation to look at what can be done to stem the tide of accidents. 

To some area residents, this is Chobani’s problem. 

William Cornell, 59, a resident of South Edmeston since 1976, said there has been little or no followup to statements the company has made about addressing the problems associated with high levels of truck traffic.

“If Chobani is really serious about being good neighbors, it shouldn’t take this long to fix these problems,” Cornell recently told The Daily Star. “These issues affect people’s quality of life in the village. It shouldn’t take five years. With all the traffic coming through here now, people’s lives are put in danger every day.”

But with respect to Cornell, we believe the other party to the June 25 meeting — the state DOT — is in a better position to address this problem. 

The truth is, Chobani can exert little control over the behavior of truck drivers — who aren’t even employed by the company — when they’re traveling to or from the plant. 

Certainly the company can ensure that drivers have accurate directions and route information. One of the issues that has been raised is that many drivers are using county Route 18, possibly on the advice of a GPS system, to reach the plant. Officials and residents seem to agree that state Route 8 is better-equipped to handle the volume and scale of large truck traffic. 

But those 26 accidents we mentioned earlier?

They happened on Route 8. 

So we urge the state Department of Transportation to take this issue seriously, and consider solutions such as reduced speed limits, signal lights warning of curves ahead, and truck route signs to keep vehicles on track. 

It’s time to stop worrying about who is to blame for this problem, and start looking for solutions — growing pains or not.