Monday, September 3, 2001

Parkway closings cause rifts

Neighbors spar on safety, time

By Anthony P. Musso
For the Poughkeepsie Journal
HOPEWELL JUNCTION -- The recent closings of five medians at Taconic State Parkway intersections continue to divide residents of East Fishkill -- geographically and philosophically.

The most recent closing was Carpenter Road, and a number of residents who live on the west side of the Taconic have initiated a petition and awareness campaign to keep the median permanently closed.

Residents who live on the east side say permanent closure will result in longer commutes and increased safety concerns in regard to emergency services and the shifting of more traffic onto local roads.

The state Department of Transportation has closed five medians at ''at-grade'' intersections and plans to close one more. The temporary closures are a stop-gap measure while officials continue work on a long-term plan, expected by the fall, to improve safety on the highway, which has seen increases in traffic in recent years.

The median closures, all

between Route 55 and Interstate 84, were announced following a fatal accident at the Carpenter Road intersection in late May. The closures prevent drivers from crossing the parkway and from making left turns onto or from the Taconic. The Hosner Mountain Road crossing also is scheduled to be closed, but no date has been set.

In addition to Carpenter, the intersections already closed are Bogardus Lane and Stormville, Todd Hill and Arthursburg roads.

In February, Assemblyman Patrick Manning, R-East Fishkill, distributed a survey to gain a consensus from Carpenter Road homeowners about the intersection of Carpenter and the Taconic.

The survey presented five choices:

- An overpass with a cloverleaf.

- Closure of the median permanently.

- Closure of the entire intersection.

- An overpass but with no access to and from the parkway.

- Doing nothing and leaving the intersection open and unchanged.

While the overall response to the survey was low, 28 percent indicated that they favored an overpass with a cloverleaf. Those in support of a median closure made up 21 percent of participants.

Casper Barcia, 85, has lived on Carpenter Road east of the parkway for 33 years. He said closing the intersection or even the median virtually severs residents on that side from the rest of town.

''There are about 1,000 of us on this side,'' Barcia said. ''There's a small group west of the Taconic, and they have access to the town. We don't.''

Barcia maintains that the installation of an overpass at Carpenter Road will cost substantially less than the $14 million spent at the Miller Hill Road interchange.

As part of the alternate route to town, Barcia said he must make a right turn onto the parkway, a major hazard given the fast moving vehicles headed northbound.

''It's more dangerous to try to do that than to wait for an opening and cross into the median,'' he said. ''We don't want anyone to be killed,''

A Carpenter Road group west of the Taconic, formed by homeowners Fred and Lynn Robbins, has initiated a petition advocating permanent closure of the intersection. Petitions have been available for about a month at businesses in Hopewell Junction.

Ted Albert, owner of Russo's Wines and Liquors on Route 82, said he isn't "pro-closing;'' he has the petition available because he was asked to do it. He said he would do the same for opposing homeowners, if asked.