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Tompkins County officials hope road painting will save lives

A stretch of roadside in the Tompkins County town of Dryden is glowing green as part of an experiment to see if the painted shoulders keep drivers from speeding.
Dryden (WSYR-TV) - A stretch of roadside in the Tompkins County town of Dryden is glowing green as part of an experiment to see if the painted shoulders keep drivers from speeding.

Some residents think it’s ugly, but officials are hoping it will save the lives of people using Ellis Hollow Road.

Speeding cars have always been an issue for neighbors along the roadway. Last year, the road was widened and there was concern that a bigger road would lead to even higher speeds. So the county decided to paint the shoulders.

“We’re hoping to create the effect of a narrowing road, thus slowing traffic down and giving that feeling that they’ll only have that 10 or 11-foot traveling lane,” said Tompkins County Highway Director Jeffrey Smith.

The green shoulder on each side of the road is about three feet wide for about a mile along Ellis Hollow Road.

The brightly colored shoulders are also meant to protect runners, walkers, and bicyclists by making them more visible.

Before the shoulders were painted, the speeds of cars were recorded throughout the day. The same will be done now to compare and see if the $17,000 project is actually making a difference.

Henry Kramer thinks the project is a waste of money.

"So they're spending $17,000 dollars on an experiment they don't know will work,” he said. "There are county roads where the shoulders are breaking down, where roads need to be re-paved and that's where the money should have been spent."

Smith thinks if one life is saved, the project will have been worth it.

If the research shows that the project is working, more shoulders could be painted in Tompkins County. Although the painting along Ellis Hollow Road isn’t the first of its kind, it’s the first time a study is being conducted.

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