ITHACA, N.Y. — When Ellis Hollow Road was repaved in 2011, state regulations required that it be widened. But with a wider road, motorists were more inclined to speed, according to Tompkins County Highway Director Jeffrey Smith.
The resulting solution is what Smith called a "shoulder-tinting research project."
In late August, the Tompkins County Highway Division began painting a 1 1/2-mile stretch of the road's shoulders bright green, in the hopes it will make the road appear narrower and lead drivers to slow down.
"It also distinguishes a difference between the shoulder and the rest of the traveled lane," Smith said. "It divides bicyclists or pedestrians walking their dogs (from motorists). I believe it does add to some safety in that aspect."
The project is expected to cost $17,500, and the paint should last for more than five years, Smith said.
Tompkins County Legislator Carol Chock, D-Ithaca, the chair of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, said municipalities in other parts of the country have used green-tinted roads to successfully slow down traffic.
"The colored shoulder both allows us to have roads that are safer because they are wider and because they have a clearly indicated shoulder, and it also helps us to retain the feeling of a smaller road, to a certain extent," she said.
Ellis Hollow Road resident Ann Armstrong said she doesn't think the project is working.
"I think it makes our road look like a circus," she said. "They put in a brand new road, and then they go and put the tinted green on it. Everybody who has come out here thinks it's a joke."
Armstrong said she can hear passing vehicles from inside her home, and people haven't slowed down.
"It's a waste of money," she said.
"We hope to give it a little bit more of a chance," Chock said. "We are going to study it and count the speeds and cars going by so that we'll be able to prove or disprove, one way or the other, whether this is making a difference."
Smith said there were speed studies on Ellis Hollow before the green tint was put down, and he's looking for another study within the next 12 months, to find out if the tint was effective.
Armstrong also said the paint job looked uneven and botched.
Chock said the coloring isn't yet complete, because the painter's machine had problems.
"So the application right now is uneven and not complete, it's not as dark as it will be, so we hope that residents will give us a chance to complete this and test it," she said.
Information from: The Ithaca Journal, http://www.theithacajournal.com