Fulton Police have written a lot of tickets in the days since the state began repairing the Broadway bridge.
Police Chief Orlo Green told members of the Common Council Monday night that officers have written more than 80 tickets since July 1. Nearly all of them are for turning left onto Route 48 from the bridge.
When the bridge closed, the traffic pattern changed. Drivers wanting to head south on 48 from the bridge have to go one block farther, turning left onto Second St. and then making their way back to 48.
“People violate the left turn all the time,” said Council member Peter Franco.
Green said his officers did not hand out tickets during the first two weeks of the change. Instead, they issued warnings — 53 of them in the first four hours of the change.
Since then, they’ve written 77 tickets for failing to obey a traffic control device, which compares to 16 tickets for the same offense for the entire first half of the year.
They’re also writing tickets for blocking the intersection during the nightly traffic jams.
The situation escalated a couple of weeks ago, when the state began shutting down the bridge at 6:00 p.m. daily so they can safely rip apart the southern half of the bridge.
The closing has caused a daily traffic jam, with backups of 15 minutes or more to get across the Oneida St. bridge.
Green said that the backups tend to ease by about 7:30 p.m. He said the shutdown forces an extra 4,000 cars per day across the Oneida St. bridge. He said that on an average pre-shutdown day, just under 17,000 cars cross the bridge. After the shutdown, the average jumps to more than 21,000 per day.
“I think people are shocked when you talk about these kinds of numbers,” said Green.
Mayor Ron Woodward said that the Oneida St. bridge is flowing as well as could be expected. “The lights are working good and the cars are moving. It’s 10, 15 minutes on the bridge.”
Green said that emergency vehicles have had no trouble crossing the Oneida St. bridge because they can use the breakdown lane in the center of the bridge to get through. The department had initially stationed an officer on the west side of the bridge once the construction work began, but has gone back to normal because no problems have occurred.
“It became apparent that (the bridge shutdown) wasn’t the horror show we thought it might be,” said Green.
Councilor Dan Knopp noted that the businesses directly on the west end of the Broadway bridge — a diner, bike store and grocery store — all have suffered lost business.
The overnight shutdown of the Broadway bridge ends in a couple of weeks, with two lanes remaining open all day and all night through the winter.
Next year, the other half of the bridge will undergo the same work and will require the same overnight shutdown of the bridge.