Behind the scenes in New Paltz — without a lot of recognition or praise — a dedicated group of volunteers has planned for the future of how people will get around. Their work helped to create the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, got us the New Paltz Loop Bus, changed parking in the village and inspired at least two proposed laws. The Transportation Implementation Committee (TIC) might not always be in the news, but the group is always working, said chairwoman Gail Gallerie. Part of that has to do with what they do. For instance, they’ve helped plan for how to fix troubled intersections — something that requires cooperation between the town, village, county, state Department of Transportation and sometimes the feds.
“The nature of this work is that it is very long-term. It does require having a fair amount of patience,” Gallerie said.
Those two proposed laws that the TIC sees as accomplishments-in-waiting are the transportation and traffic-calming measures in the Village of New Paltz’s proposed new zoning code and the town’s “access management law.”
How it all started
Back in late 1990s, pretty much everyone in New Paltz thought traffic would flow a lot easier if a bypass route linked South Putt Corners Road to Route 208 — and maybe even over the Wallkill River to the Ulster County Fairgrounds.
“DOT responded to that request, saying that might be a good idea,” Gallerie said, adding that the DOT asked that the bypass — along with transportation needs in New Paltz in general — be studied first.
The town and village got a $500,000 federal grant to help with that planning process. From 2003 to 2006, a transportation and land-use group studied how to make it all happen.
“The study found that that bypass — which people for decades believed was the magic key to Main Street traffic problems — really would have fairly little impact,” she said.
But the plan uncovered many other ideas for how to improve traffic in the town and village.
By December 2006, the town and village had both agreed to the results of that transportation plan. They agreed to form the TIC — populating it with some familiar faces from the study group. Gallerie, along with Allan Bowdery and now-village Trustee Sally Rhoads, are some of the founding members who’ve stayed on the committee since 2006.
They wanted to make sure the transportation study didn’t get forgotten.
Ultimately, the DOT set aside $7 million to address the transportation issues outlined by the study. TIC members prioritized which work should get done first, setting the list in 2009. One of their big projects on the Top 10 list back then was a plan to change the intersection of Main Street and Manheim Boulevard. North and South Manheim are problematic because they dogleg and don’t line up straight on.
Manheim is also one of those examples of the waiting game that Gallerie and other board members outlined. They’ve done the work. They’ve got the plan. And now it’s up to them to make sure the DOT, county and village still act on it.
“We’ve been trained to understand that these are very long-term in coming to reality,” the chairwoman said.
What they’re up to now
Two things that have the committee members excited right now are the proposed local laws in front of the town and village.
TIC member Bowdery is happy to see the New Paltz Town Planning Board looking at their draft access management law.
“That’s one of the original things that came out of the study,” Bowdery said. “What access management is, is an attempt to funnel cars and trucks not exclusively onto the roadway.”
It would limit excessive entryways/exits, but it would also mandate more internal connections between shopping plazas.
It would eliminate the tantalization and frustration drivers feel when they see a store they want to go to but are blocked by an impassible curb.
For instance, the gas station next to the Trailways Bus Station is an example of having too many egress points. Since cars can come in and out wherever, that poses problems on Main Street and with the buses.