Tuesday, July 24, 2001

State closes median at Todd Hill

Arthursburg crossing next

By Michael Valkys
Poughkeepsie Journal

FREEDOM PLAINS -- The Todd Hill Road median crossing on the Taconic State Parkway in LaGrange was closed Monday as state officials continue a series of temporary closures designed to improve safety on the highway.

Next up for closure is the Arthursburg Road median, also in LaGrange. That should be shut after the morning rush on Friday, according to state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Colleen McKenna.

In all, six median crossings on the parkway in southern Dutchess County will be closed by the end of August. Meanwhile, the DOT has suggested alternate routes for drivers and sent out fliers to 73,000 area homes to advise residents of the ongoing changes along the parkway. Another 7,000 fliers will be handed out at Dutchess Stadium during Renegades baseball games, McKenna said.

She said drivers who would normally use the Arthursburg median should head to Route 55 west into Poughkeepsie. The DOT said drivers on the northbound Taconic can use the Route 82 exit to head north to Dutchess County Route 21 west, which brings drivers to Noxon Road and back into Poughkeepsie.

Impact 'minimal'

McKenna said the closings have not had a major impact on traffic. ''The impacts have been minimal and the complaints have been minimal,'' she said. ''It hasn't been that bad.''

East Fishkill officials are opposed to some of the closings, citing potential increased traffic on local roads and other concerns. They have hinted at a possible court fight to prevent the closures.

LaGrange Supervisor George Wade III said he supports the DOT's plan to temporarily close the Arthursburg median while officials consider long-term solutions.

Wade said the closure could increase traffic on local roads.

''Arthursburg is going to be a problem,'' Wade said. ''I think there has to be a better solution.''

A special DOT task force studying potential solutions to safety problems on the parkway is expected to issue a report this fall.

Other median crossings already closed or set for closure include: 

- Bogardus Lane in Hope-well Junction closed July 11. 

- The Stormville Road median in East Fishkill closed July 16. 

- Carpenter and Hosner Mountain roads, also in East Fishkill, are set for closure in mid-to-late August. 

The DOT plans to close all of the medians, barring left hand turns onto or off the Taconic, with the exception of Bogardus Lane, which has had all access to the Taconic closed off.

The DOT decided to close the median crossings after a May 29 fatal accident on Carpenter Road, the latest in a series of fatalities at at-grade crossings in the past decade.