Monday, August 13, 2001

Parkway closing plan gets backing

Group seeks local support

By Anthony P. Musso
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

HOPEWELL JUNCTION -- A group of Carpenter Road residents in the Town of East Fishkill says closing the Taconic Parkway median is essential to maintain safety for the community.

They recently formed a group to raise awareness of the issue and to appeal to the state for help.

The Carpenter and Hosner Mountain Road medians are scheduled to be closed by the state Department of Transportation later this month, capping off six areas targeted by the agency for safety concerns.

Lynn Robbins has lived on Carpenter Road with her husband and two children for 18 years. She said during that time she has experienced a drastic increase in heavy-truck traffic along the winding country road.

Commercial traffic, which exits I-84 and travels along Route 52 over a bridge and across the parkway, uses Carpenter Road to access local businesses.

'Recipe for disaster'

The traffic, in addition to school buses and commuters on the parkway, is a recipe for disaster, Robbins said.

"My two sons both had incidents last year trying to board or exit a school bus due to speeding cars and trucks,'' Robbins said. "That's what galvanized me to do something about this problem.''

The group has enlisted the support of 40 residents living on the one-mile stretch of Carpenter Road west of the parkway.

Efforts to contact residents living east of the Taconic continue.

''Because we are geographically divided, it's difficult getting to everyone," Robbins said. "We're separated but of the same mind.''

The group wears rainbow ribbons and displays them on roadside mailboxes in support of the initiative. They also engage in door-to-door campaigns and provide information to shoppers at local businesses.

A petition in support of the permanent closure of the Carpenter Road median, which is available at some establishments in town including the Plaza Diner and Russo's Liquor store on Route 82, will

be submitted to state officials in the future.

The group is fearful that when upgrades made to the bridge at the intersection of Carpenter and Beekman roads is complete and the road is re-opened, the increased weight limit on the structure -- from 19 tons to more than 40 -- will encourage heavy truck use even more.

Some residents are in favor of other options.

Jesse Johnson, whose father bought the family's farm on Carpenter Road, east of the parkway, in 1934, said while the heavy truck traffic is dangerous, a closure would cause difficulties.

"I would be very much in favor of an overpass at the parkway intersection,'' he said. "But I'd really like to see a weight limit put into effect for vehicles that use the road. They are too big and travel too fast.''