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Rt. 94 traffic lights may become permanent

November 13th, 2013

The Town of New Windsor is considering making a set of temporary traffic lights at the intersection of Rt. 94 and Butterhill Drive permanent.

“I’m going to try to keep it,” said town Supervisor George Green at the November board meeting. “It’s been a godsend.”

The four-way light set sits on Rt. 94, also known as Blooming Grove Turnpike, at the main entrance to the Butterhill Estates. Among other areas, the lights manage flow along the state road, in and out of the development and the adjacent New Windsor Commons.

The hanging lights were initially installed to relieve traffic congestion caused by the closure of the Forge Hill Road bridge, destroyed during Hurricane Irene. The road and bridge closure generated more traffic along Rt. 94 and thoroughfares like Caesar’s Lane, which connects to Rt. 9W.

“It would be a shame to let them take it down,” said Green, who said he had already spoken to State Senator William Larkin about it.

Reactions were mixed to the idea of making the lights permanent in New Windsor Commons last week. “I’ve lived here all my life,” said Tom Riley. “I don’t think it’s a dangerous intersection.”

Town resident Bob Murphy said the lights cause congestion, especially in the mornings around 8 a.m. when he is on his way to work. “The school buses pick up the kids and the traffic gets backed up,” he said. “The light makes it worse.”

Murphy said a lot of new traffic was being generated from the new Nature’s Pantry store, located in New Windsor Commons. “But people still make a right on red coming out of the parking lot onto 94,” he said, referring to drivers coming out of the commons’ parking area.

Christine Bedetti said the traffic light would work better at the intersection of Rt. 94 and Caesar’s Lane, which many drivers now use to get to Rt. 9W. “The traffic flow comes of off Rt. 9W,” she said. “It’s worse at rush hour. People come up Caesar’s Lane and they can’t get out.”

Local and state officials collaborated with the state Department of Transportation to obtain federal funding to have the lights installed last year. Green did not say if any more funding would be required to make the light permanent at the town board meeting this month.

Robert Kopman, a Butterhill resident, said the light is sorely needed. “You need something to relieve the traffic,” he said. “We’ve had one less exit out of Butterhill for two years now.”

Aside from the main entrance to the development, Kopman said, there is only one other exit/entrance on Caesar’s Lane. “People go very fast down there,” he said.

Kopman lives on Butternut Drive. Part of the road collapsed after it was washed away during Hurricane Irene. Not far away, the county-owned Forge Hill Road bridge once carried traffic back and forth over the Moodna Creek and onto Rt. 9W and Rt. 94.

The bridge has sat in disrepair for about two and a half years. The county Department of Public Works is expected to begin construction on the bridge this spring. According to county Legislator Chris Eachus, it will cost $2.5 million to rebuild the bridge, with the county to foot 20 percent of the bill and the Federal Highway Administration to pay the remaining 80 percent.

The bridge is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016, he said.


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