Olean was well-treated by the Federal Highway Administration. The City applied for $6.5 million toward an $8.85 million dollar project and was awarded their full request. People are asking why? The answer is simple: This is a well conceived project supported by a very sound application.
Click the image here to read the application and then click this link to read the Benefit Cost Analysis. The City and their consultants were conservative, using hard data concerning Safety and Congestion Cost to formulate a payback argument. Then they looked at the economic renewal potential of a traffic-calmed, walkable downtown and listed this as the third most valuable category of benefits. To summarize, the 20-year benefit of this $8,85 million project is over $20 million, forecasted as:
$10.4 million from enhanced safety – North Union’s current accident rate is 4.6-times the average for roads like this in New York State!
$ 5.6 million from reduction in delays due to the adoption of roundabouts, plus energy savings from roundabouts and new lights.
$ 4.8 million from increased property value in our downtown core.
The benefit cost analysis answers some common questions such as “how would we afford landscape maintenance in a new, greener downtown?” Well, we currently spend about $35,000 per year powering traffic signals. This money that we currently pay National Grid could be re-purposed to pay for lawn and tree trimming.
There are two very important things to take away from this application. The first is the fact that North Union represents a safety hazard today. Something really must be done. The second is that the local share of cost is quite small. The TIGER makes long overdue maintenance affordable and it will enable us to make a street improvement that many would never have thought possible. Congratulations Olean!