HOOSICK, N.Y. - Officials in Rensselaer County are requesting a safety review on a section of Route 7 in the town of Hoosick where a gas tanker truck crashed last week.
The tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline left the roadway, slid down an embankment and burst into flames on February 13th. Gasoline also went into a nearby creek. The driver of the truck was able to escape the vehicle but was in very serious condition with burns after the accident.
County officials say there were also reports of another accident this past weekend in the same location as the tanker truck.
Last week's accident was the second tanker truck crash in two years in this section of Route 7. In July 2011, following another serious accident involving the rollover of a tanker truck carrying approximately 10,000 gallons of propane.
Rensselaer County Legislators say they are worried about the possibility of future accidents, and risk to other motorists and nearby homes and businesses.
Legislators say they requested a safety review of the highway in 2008, following a series of accidents in the Potter Hill area then again renewed the request for a safety review in July 2011.
Legislators said they would like a review to include a look at lighting, speed conditions, visibility and signage on the section of State Route 7 through the Town of Hoosick.
"We have to find a solution to this problem," said Rensselaer County Legislator Stan Brownell.
"How many more truck drivers will get burned or possibly lose their lives before a common sense solution comes about," said Joe Antignani, owner of Green Mountain Lines.
The search for that solution begins along a section of Route 7 with sharp bends and winding turns.
"It may be a time where we really need to straighten this road out and it's going to cost a lot of money to make that happen," said Brownell.
A drastic change to stop a rash of serious accidents over the past few years. Most recently two weeks ago a gas tanker truck rolled over an embankment and caught fire. According to officials the driver failed to negotiate a curve. That accident similar to one that happened in 2011, has left an impact.
"We had detour traffic for about four days and it was on our County Road and it's still not prepared correctly yet. You can still see the damage its done to our forest down here. It put a major tremendous strain on our local fire and EMS," said Brownell. Brownell and other leaders are calling for a new safety review of the area. The NYS DOT says its already performed studies in 1999.
"Following that review we augmented signs," said Bryan Viggiani with NYS DOT.
A safety review was also completed in 2011.
"At that time that study confirmed that there were the appropriate signs and traffic markings were in place," said Viggiani.
But Green Mountain Lines owner and driver with more than 30 years of experience maneuvering the turns, disagrees.
"As of right now they don't have the proper signage," said Antignani.
Antignani suggests a more flashy approach.
"Above the highway with yellow lights embedded in the sign stating that sharp steep curves ahead," said Antignani.
The NYS DOT says before it goes any further with yet another safety review it will need to see the safety report that comes from the most recent accident. The Legislature is expected to consider a resolution in March. If approved, the request would be sent to state DOT, the governor and representatives of Rensselaer County in the State Legislature.
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