The Tompkins County Legislature passed a widening of Coddington Road at their meeting two weeks ago, project manager John Lampman said. The plan includes a five-foot paved shoulder on each side of the road—a two foot expansion in either direction. The road currently has 10-foot lanes and three-foot gravel shoulders.
Tim Joseph, chair of the legislature, said the plan aims to decrease the number of pedestrian-related accidents on the road.
“The road is in very bad shape and needs to be redone,” he said. “We have the federal funding available to do it.”
The current budget for the project is around $6 million, with most of the money coming from state and federal funding. The remaining costs would be covered by the legislature’s annual capital budget.
For some Coddington residents, money is not the problem, Ithaca College senior and lifetime Ithaca resident Evan Williams said.
Williams said he remembers growing up on Coddington Road, and the new construction doesn’t sit well with him. He said he is concerned that the project will negatively impact the area in terms of safety.
“We’re not getting any direct benefit,” Williams said. “All we’re going to get is faster traffic.”
Rich DePaolo, spokesperson for the Coddington Area Neighborhood Association, voiced similar concerns and said widening the road will create the illusion of driving on a highway.
“My main concerns are the safety issues involved and the construction cutting into people’s property,” he said. “I haven’t been convinced of any long-term utility from the project.”
Joseph said the legislature originally proposed 10-foot lanes and four-foot shoulders, a change DePaolo said residents would accept. The state did not approve that design.
DePaolo said the original plan could be enacted without the state’s initial approval
by applying for a context-sensitive design plan through the New York State Department of Transportation.
According to the Department of Transportation’s Design Quality Assurance Bureau, all interstate and other freeway shoulders must be fully paved, but historic parkways classified as freeways only require paving for four-foot shoulders.
DePaolo said he and other residents brought this to the attention of the legislature.
“They either didn’t know the procedure existed or were pretending they didn’t know,” he said. “So either they’re inept or disingenuous.”
DePaolo said if the county continues with their plan, legal action will be taken against them for cutting into residents’ property. He said an extra two feet on each side of the road will make a difference.
“It’s important because those four feet aren’t being added to the middle of the road, they’re being added to the sides of the road,” he said.
Lampman said the board was still discussing renovations of the north end of the road, but nothing had been decided. Any changes made to the north end of Coddington would directly affect students from the college who live there, Lampman said.
“We want to set up a citizen’s advisory committee for that,” Lampman said. “That way we can avoid some of the problems we’ve run into this time around.”
Williams said even for students who are planning to leave, the expansion is a problem.
“Students [who live on Coddington] will be inconvenienced by the construction,” he said.
Junior Owen Campbell, who lives on the north end of Coddington, said the expansion would be a hassle, but the benefits for pedestrians make it a worthwhile project.
“There have been a couple of times I’ve almost clipped kids walking on the side of the road,” he said. “It’s really kind of a safety issue with college students [living there].”
Campbell said he was surprised by the volume of complaints but said he understands why people are upset.
“I just never thought a few feet would make such a difference,” he said.