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Obstructing traffic at an intersection is illegal

Driving is filled with frustrations every day, but one of the most irritating ones is when you cannot proceed on a green light when other vehicles are blocking the road you must cross because of traffic backup. A similar situation is when you want to turn left onto a street, but you can’t because oncoming vehicles are stopped in the intersection.

Blocking an intersection as described above is in violation of paragraph 1175 of Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL), which prohibits a motorist from entering an intersection, whether the intersection is controlled by a traffic signal or not, when vehicular traffic is stopped on the opposite side unless there is adequate space on the opposite side to accommodate your vehicle. An exception to this is if you are going to make a left turn, in which case you are allowed to enter the intersection and wait for a break in oncoming traffic or for oncoming traffic to stop because the light changed, and then complete your turn. Only one vehicle at a time is allowed to enter the intersection for this purpose.

With the ongoing construction in Malone for the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, traffic along Main Street (US Route 11) has been slowed for months now and will continue to be until the end project is completed. Furthermore, with the accompanying “Road Diet,” where much of Route 11 through the village has been reduced from four lanes to two lanes plus turning lanes, traffic will undoubtably be backed up for more than one block on occasions. When this happens, if you can’t clear an intersection before being stopped in the line of traffic, you should NOT enter the intersection when proceeding straight.

Another new traffic pattern local drivers must get used to is the two merge points resulting from the section between Harrison Place and Pearl Street, which remains as four lanes. At both ends of this section, the two lanes in each direction merge back into one lane in each direction. For westbound traffic, this merge point is between Harrison Place and Amsden Street For eastbound traffic, the merge point is from Pearl Street to just before the post office. In both cases the two westbound and two eastbound lanes merge into one lane in each direction, and the transition takes place over a very short distance. Driver courtesy must result for a safe and smooth merge. For this to work well a “zipper merge,” where every other vehicle merges into one lane, is appropriate.

The project has also resulted in a major change at the West Main Street/Finney Boulevard Intersection, where what used to be a through lane now becomes a right turn only lane. This is no problem for out-of-town drivers, but it may take time for local drivers to become familiar with the changes.

As with many new road projects, there are different traffic patterns, and drivers make mistakes. This is a very good time for patience and courtesy.

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