James Street in Rosendale poised to reopen by May 1

Work on James Street in Rosendale is nearing completion. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Rosendale’s unofficial favorite shortcut around downtown Main Street has been intermittently out of commission for a long while now. First it was the one/two punch of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee turning the Rondout Creek into a raging torrent that scoured its southern bank in late August of 2011, undermining James Street and requiring a temporary resurfacing job. Then, in February, a water main failure and resulting sinkhole forced the street to close.

But extensive storm damage to town infrastructure qualified Rosendale to apply for millions of dollars in state funding via the NY Rising program, and a portion of those monies was allocated for a complete overhaul of the most severely affected section of James Street. With the launch of the spring construction season, neighborhood residents can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. “By the end of this month, we should have that all wrapped up,” Joe Mihm, senior project engineer at Brinnier & Larios, PC, announced at April 3 meeting of the Rosendale Town Board. “The road will be open by the end of April or the first of May.”

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The engineering consultant reported that two of the three main elements of the James Street flood control project were already completed. Two new culverts draining rainwater runoff into the Rondout – one of them an enormous 48-inch-diameter pipe crossing under the road – are now in the ground, along with several smaller cross-feeders. The ambitious bank-stabilization portion of the project, a massive new stone headwall extending 600 feet upstream from the impact point of the floodwaters, is in place as well. The grade of the hill at that point has been contoured, “the slope flattened out so that it’s stable,” Mihm explained.

The third phase still underway involves recapping the road surface and widening James Street to accommodate a planned linear park and promenade overlooking the creek. “The contractor is prepping the road to get paved,” he said. “The asphalt plants are just opening up for the season this week.” Slots have been bored into the pavement to support new timber railings that will segregate cyclists and pedestrians from automobile traffic between Route 32 and Madeline Lane. A white line and “different-color asphalt” will define the bike/ped lane from Madeline to Parkcrest Drive. Heading uphill toward the John Street intersection, Mihm said, “We’re going to get a lot of those ‘whoops’ out of the road and level it all out.”

The contractors had to wait for three utility pole to be relocated by Central Hudson in order to widen the road, he noted. The automobile traffic lane will be 24 feet wide upon completion.

Town Board members were all smiles at the news that a ribbon-cutting might be needed on James Street quite soon. “Should we have some kind of party?” asked councilman Matt Igoe. Deputy town supervisor Ken Hassett, who was filling in for Jeanne Walsh at the meeting, expressed relief on behalf of the Rosendale Food Pantry, whose driveway is located right at the end of the torn-up pavement on James Street. “We’ll be glad to have that road open!”

In other traffic-related news, the Town Board voted 4-0 to issue a request to the Rosendale Highway and Police Departments asking them to recommend changes in speed limits, signage and traffic-calming devices that their personnel think would enhance public safety within the town’s road system. Based on their feedback, the town will then submit official requests for changes to the state Department of Transportation. “We want it to be comprehensive and not just piecemeal,” explained councilman Chris Pryslopski. Councilman Igoe said that the board’s priorities at this time are to reduce the speed limit from 55 to 40 miles per hour on the uphill stretch of Route 32 leading into Tillson and from 30 to 25 on Route 213/Main Street where it passes through Rosendale’s downtown business district.

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