AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Planning and Infrastructure Division announced it was awarded $10,235,200 to improve the safety of motorists along a 4.2-mile stretch of Route 37. Announced on Enníska/February 1, 2023 by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program, the funds will be used to reconfigure the roadway to include a center turning lane.
“We are committed to providing and maintaining local roadways that are safe for the entire community and our visitors,” shared Planning and Infrastructure Director Colleen Thomas. Thomas added, “With a large concentration of accidents occurring on Route 37, there is a need for safety improvements to address the serious, and often fatal, crashes that have taken place over the years. I thank our stakeholders for helping prepare and submit a successful plan to improve road safety — especially our on-call engineering firm of AES Northeast and Lieutenant Ted Cook, who updated the Tribe’s crash data with New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles.”
The Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill established the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary program with $5 billion in appropriated funds over the next 5 years. The SS4A program funds regional, local, and Tribal initiatives through grants that are meant to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. The Tribe received one of 37 Implementation Grants that were awarded.
Route 37 is the primary thoroughfare under the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s jurisdiction, which runs East to West through the reservation located in Northern New York State. Traveling eastward, the roadway reduces from four lanes to two lanes as travelers come onto the territory. The congested traffic has contributed to a high concentration of vehicle accidents, with the majority being rear-end collisions.
Data compiled in the SRMT’s Tribal Transportation Safety Plan showed that for a 5-year period from February 2016 to January 2021 there were 803 vehicle crashes; where 172 crashes involved an injury, with 21 involving a fatality or serious injury.
To make Route 37 safer, the SRMT’s Planning and Infrastructure Division will oversee construction of a 16-foot-wide center turning lane, with two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, and a 5-foot-wide shoulder on each side. The creation of a center turning lane will reduce the frequency of crashes involving turning vehicles and will help improve access onto Route 37 for numerous residences, businesses, and government offices.
The majority of work on the road safety improvements will take place within the established right-of-way; which is a distance of 50-feet in total width and extends 25 feet from the center of the road on each side. The improvements will stretch 4.2 miles from the intersection of Route 95 to Raquette Point Road. Property owners in this corridor will be consulted for any improvements that may impact their property.
“The federal infrastructure funds received for this long-needed improvement to Route 37 are vital to improve traffic safety through the busiest part of our community. Our Nation continues to grow and the new center turning lane will result in a safer community for everyone. This is wonderful news, and great work, by our Planning and Infrastructure Team to secure these important funds,” shared SRMT Executive Director Tsiorasa Barreiro.
After the grant agreement has been finalized between the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and USDOT, the SRMT’s Planning and Infrastructure Division will schedule a public meeting to present the preliminary road safety improvements and respond to any questions.