Route 60 connects the north and south ends of Chautauqua County - it can be frustrating at times and is possibly one of the most used roads in the area.
It is also a stretch of road that claims several lives each year, perhaps for no reason other than the volume of people driving on it.
There have been 82 fatalities along Route 60 since 1972, according to Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace, including four so far this year.
Pictured are accident scenes from the past year on Route 60. There have been 82 fatalities on Route 60 since 1972, including four so far this year. Sheriff Joe Gerace says there is no simple explanation for serious accidents on Route 60.
P-J file photos
"Everybody wants to know what's the leading cause of the accidents, but it's hard to put your finger on just one factor," Gerace said. "It's one of the most highly-traveled roads in the county and there are a tremendous number of intersections and driveways along it. There's some accidents that involve alcohol or driver error and just a number of things that can happen."
The fact that Route 60 is used by so many people each day and is only a two-lane road for much of its length may contribute to the accidents.
The stretch of Interstate 86 that spans from the bridge in Stowe all the way to the Pennsylvania border was once considered deadly until it was constructed into a four-lane highway.
"The bridge was four lanes and then the road after it was only two, so you would have people who thought they were passing go head-on with oncoming vehicles," the sheriff said. "It was just horrendous and people were massacred out there, and every so often we have a serious head-on on Route 60 with someone passing."
Currently, there are two four-lane passing zones on Route 60, one in Ellicott and the other in Pomfret, but a common complaint drivers have is traveling behind someone who is driving well below the speed limit.
"Everyone can relate to the frustration of being stuck behind a slow car on Route 60 and sometimes people take a risk by going around them to pass," the sheriff said. "That can be dangerous and it is the type of accident that we would probably see less of if it was a four-lane highway. Without looking at the specific data, I would assume that I-90 has a higher volume of traffic but less fatalities, and that could be attributed to the fact that its four lanes."
There have been several efforts over the years to widen Route 60, make improvements to sight lines and make other changes intended to make it safer, but many have never materialized as money fell short.
The overall condition of Route 60 has improved over the years, especially since the early 1980s when then County Executive, Joseph Gerace Sr., had to set up a task force to study the highway and recommend necessary improvements to the state in order to get the road maintained and repaired. It was described at the time as a pothole-laden stretch of road that hindered travel and commerce.
In 1997, the accident rates for much of Route 60 were below the statewide average, and that was the year that there were seven fatalities, the highest since 1972, on that highway. State officials have frequently referred to such figures when explaining why more attention isn't paid to the design of Route 60.
Back in February, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-South Buffalo, announced that federal economic stimulus money totaling $17.4 million was approved for upgrades to Route 60. An official plan describing exactly what changes and improvements will be made has not yet been released by the State Department of Transportation, but if it's used as it was intended, there is a possibility that Route 60 will become a safer, more enjoyable highway sometime in the near future.