Traffic on Route 299 west of New Paltz was on the mind of a citizen activist who spoke up at the July 28 New Paltz Town Board meeting, with a bare quorum of three members in attendance and a light agenda that wrapped up in well under an hour.
In the public input portion of the meeting, Lou Cariola of Jacobs Lane pressed the board for a commitment to the reduction of the speed limit on Route 299 between Libertyville and Butterville roads from 55 to 45 miles per hour. But town officials repeatedly stated that the decision is basically in the hands of the Ulster County Department of Transportation.
“We can only ask the county that they do a study and consider it, but we have not formally asked the county yet,” town supervisor Neil Bettez explained. “The Transportation Implementation Committee has been working on this, and they’re going to give the board their recommendation. Then the board will pass a resolution asking the county to do a study. We’re not allowed to do anything; it’s a county road.”
Councilman Jeff Logan reminisced about several past traffic studies that cost the town thousands of dollars but ended up having their recommendations rejected, including one dealing with the stretch of North Putt Corners Road near the entrance to Woodland Pond: “When the state and the county were done, they would not do it.”
Bettez said that, while the official speed limit is 55 miles per hour on most of 299 west of the Wallkill, about half of that distance consist of curves that have yellow signs recommending not driving more than 45. Highway superintendent Chris Marx pointed out that these are “recommended” speeds based on inclinometer testing and not limits enforceable by law. Bettez also noted that the Gardiner Town Board recently declined to seek a reduction in speed limit on the segments of Route 299 that lie within the Town of Gardiner.
Cariola also expressed concern about whether or not the exit from Gatehouse Road onto 299 would be realigned as the New Paltz Planning Board reviews the Mohonk Preserve’s site plan for redevelopment of the Gatehouse site: “Is that going to go?” he asked. “I haven’t heard anyone say they’re opposed,” Logan replied. “I remember a recommendation that goes back 20 years for a rotary at the Gatehouse…It was never funded.”
Marx reassured Cariola that the county planners and engineers with whom he has met have been encouraging of his intention to adapt the planned egress from Gatehouse Road to make it a less abrupt turn onto Route 299.
“It won’t come down to a dollars-and-cents issue,” Logan assured Cariola. “A straw poll in my head would say you have the full support of this board.”