There are several areas within the proposed Master Plan and related documents which are vague and/or inconsistent. Tonight, I will address one or two of the things it doesn't say, with respect to the proposal for a grade-separated diamond interchange at Dutchess County 29 (DC29, Carpenter Road) and the Taconic State Parkway (TSP).
A piece-meal series of seemingly unrelated projects along DC29 (Carpenter Road) raises questions about an undisclosed agenda which is part of an overall plan, enabled by the Master Plan proposals. It's only when the entire area of DC29 is examined that a larger picture emerges.
» Why is Carpenter Road so important that it is specifically referenced many times - in the May 2002 Comprehensive Plan (Master Plan), the Traffic Circulation Plan, the May 2002 DGEIS, etc.?
I. Section 6.5 in the proposed Master Plan on p. 45 says that the proposed interchange:
would serve central East Fishkill and could possibly provide access to a commuter rail station on the MNR Beacon line.
Master Plan Section 6.8 Public Transportation says:
MTA and its commuter rail division - Metro-North Railroads (MNR) - studied the feasibility of initiating passenger rail service between East Fishkill and Brewster North along the Beacon Line. The report concluded that extending passenger service would not be practical due in part to various infrastructure improvements that would have to be made before the rail line could be effectively used. These include: track rehabilitation, activation of grade crossings, repairs to bridges and culverts, and clearing of right-of-way. In the future, if MTA should decide that providing passenger rail service along this line is feasible and warranted, then a railroad station would be appropriately located within the Town of East Fishkill. One possible location for such a station would be outside of Hopewell Junction, near the Taconic State Parkway.
This means it could very well BECOME feasible, especially if the final connection is made at the TSP intersection.
» DC29 is currently classified as a minor arterial. Will it be re-classified as a principal arterial?
The Master Plan indicates that it must ensure sufficient access to the TSP. Again DC29 is referenced for grade separation. To correct a misconception - there IS access to the TSP at this location as well as at Rt. 82, Beekman Road, Stormville Road, Rt. 52, Hosner Mtn. Road, I-84 and Miller Hill Road. For safety reasons, the medians were barricaded (by New York State) to eliminate left turns and cross-over accidents.
» Where is the most recent traffic study relating to the TSP median closures?
Section 6.5 of the Master Plan states that the interchange:
Reasons to swiftly construct a grade-separated, diamond interchange include issues of: traffic flow, school bus routes, snow plowing, fire department access, convenience for residents, and commercial vehicle traffic.
» Do all the residents realize that this connecting "bridge" is not solely for their convenience?
» Why isn't there a "proposed drawing" to show residents how this interchange might look - and how it is part of the connection from Interstate 84 and state routes: 52, the TSP, 82, and 376 and DC9 (Beekman Road)?
Specify the types of vehicles permitted to use DC29, with all upgrades complete. According to documents received by us from East Fishkill, Dutchess County, and N.Y. State, there are no longer any bridges limiting the weight of any vehicles (sorry - 45 tons!) There are NO RESTRICTIONS - EXCEPT: they currently cannot cross the TSP because the median is closed. (Safety reasons)
The types of commercial vehicles (i.e. TRUCKS) will include: multi-axle 22-wheel freight haulers, new-car carriers, gravel, medical waste, supermarket tractor-trailers, etc. These are NOT delivery trucks of the UPS and Ryan Oil variety.
» Heavy commercial vehicles belong in commercial districts and on state-regulated highways, not residentially-zoned neighborhoods. Or - will DC29 be re-zoned to reflect the new traffic flow?
» Given design deficits of DC29 - such as downhill gradient, blind curves, 90° hairpin turns, no shoulders and poor line-of-sight, how do you intend to maintain motorist safety? How do you protect the people living on this road? Where can vehicles be pulled over, safely? Can trucks easily pass by each other?
» How will the speed limit be enforced? Current police agencies are already strained and cannot dedicate personnel to speed enforcement. [P.S. - commuters and truckers KNOW THIS.]
» The quality of life enjoyed by the families will be diminished and danger increased by the constant flow of multi-axle, heavy-weight freight haulers. How will this be mitigated?
» Commercial traffic using the cross-county highway established by the construction of a grade-separated interchange will lower property values for the residents on and near DC29. Or am I wrong, and truck routes increase property values?
II. According to our discussions with, and maps from, the Dutchess County Environmental Management Council (DCEMC), and the Master Plan's section 5.2, the intersection of DC29 (Carpenter Road) and the TSP lies within state and national wetlands, Fishkill Creek, and floodplains (see Fig. 5.2 in the Master Plan and the DCEMC map and pictures enclosed with this document.)
The information from page 31 (Master Plan) states:
The construction of the proposed interchange/crossing will, in and of itself, impact the wetlands, creek and floodplains. Enormous amounts of fill and paving will be required for such a project. Additional traffic from development and the trucks will contribute to pollution - both air and ground!
At the Fishkill Creek Watershed Symposium held May 9, 2002, the greatest factor in the degradation of streams and the watershed is "urban runoff" - from new development, paving and vehicular traffic. A grade-separated interchange involves not only construction and filling, but extensive amounts of paving.
» How can this NOT affect the watershed?
Section 5.4 , p. 32, of the Master Plan states:
Paved areas near recharge areas should be limited in size to allow water to seep into the ground and wetlands should be protected to allow water to collect and percolate beneath the surface for drinking later on.
This DIRECTLY AFFECTS the water quality for the residents of DC29 as well as that of the Fishkill Creek as it flows toward the city of Beacon on its way to the Hudson River!
The Poughkeepsie Journal's article of December 7, 2001, states (in essence) that Gov. Pataki declared land East of the Hudson River in Dutchess County to be environmentally sensitive. We are located there!
In lieu of creating an expensive, environmentally destructive interchange/crossing, initiate and accelerate safety measures at existing interchanges. This could include properly timed traffic signals at on/off ramps and turn lanes.
To provide convenience for East Fishkill residents, alternate connecting service roads could be a consideration.
Or maybe if the MTA finally decides not to use the Beacon Line for passenger service, they could be approached to use the right-of-way for a truck by-pass.
To conclude these issues:
Speeds of commuting passenger vehicles threaten the lives of residents and have caused property damage and personal injury. This will be compounded by the addition of non-stop interstate freight trucks. Any child riding on a school bus using DC29 is also at the mercy of the mammoth trucks as they careen downhill around the narrow hairpin curves. Our experience tells us so - since before the median closure at the TSP.
Are the residents from Carpenter, Clove Branch, Hillside Lake, and the intersecting roads, to be the next "DISPLACED" residents in East Fishkill? The plans to make a grade-separated anything will make living conditions so dangerous and UNPLEASANT, that we will be FORCED to leave the town that we helped to make "a great place to live."
Perhaps the green banners should say… A GREAT PLACE TO LEAVE!"
I insist on full disclosure of the intent for Dutchess County 29.