GERRY, NY — Some call Route 60 in Chautauqua County, the county's most deadly highway. And now, millions of dollars have been approved to make a portion of the road safer.
State Senator Cathy Young says $5 million of taxpayer funds has been found in the state budget to widen parts of the Route 60, which is used very often, with an average of 6,000 vehicles traveling it every day.
Chautauqua County's sheriff says that highway has been a problem for at least 20 years.
"Route 60 is our most deadly highway," said Sheriff Joseph Gerace.
Since the early 70s, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's office says there have been 82 deaths on Route 60. The most recent -- in January -- a 20-year-old man from Lakewood, driving in a car, crossed the center line and slammed into a tour bus in Town of Charlotte. He died at the scene.Officials say they see a lot of drivers getting impatient on Route 60 — going into the other lane to get past slower moving vehicles, which can be dangerous.
"Any bit of additional lane space will reduce those potential hazards," Gerace said.And, that's what the $5 million will be paid for, widening parts of Route 60, to add passing lanes and improve traffic flow between Gerry and Cassadaga — that's roughly 12 miles of road, that has few opportunities for drivers to pass.
"As far as our town residents on behalf of them, many of them travel this section of road numerous times in a single day so certainly for our residents any way we can make the road safer is great," said John Crossley, the Gerry supervisor.It's still unclear exactly where and how parts of the road will be widened, and whether breakdown lanes or perhaps farmland will be impacted. Officials say this will all be part of a traffic study by the state DOT.
Lawmakers say the DOT's study and design work is already underway and eventually construction will be put out to bid. Work on Route 60 is expected to begin in 2020. Lawmakers say there will be a public meeting that residents can attend, but a date has not been set.