Good news for motorists in Gardiner: A flashing signal indicating a stop sign ahead has been installed on Route 44/55 westbound, just before its intersection with Bruynswick Road (County Route 7). A countywide Road Safety Analysis study in April 2021 designated the intersection, known locally as Benton Corners, as the most dangerous two-lane rural road junction in all of Ulster County.
The Ulster County Transportation Council had already recommended the installation of a four-way traffic light at Benton Corners before a fatal collision between a car and a motorcycle in June 2021 took the life of a Gardiner firefighter, George Airday. He was not the first motorcyclist to be killed at the intersection, and non-fatal accidents have occurred there with disturbing frequency over the years. The outcry over Airday’s death led to a Change.orgpetition and increasing pressure by local officials on the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) to take immediate steps to minimize the safety hazard (https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2021/07/02/gardinerites-officials-demand-traffic-light-at-bruynswick-44-55-intersection-after-fatal-crash).
On March 7, Deyano Manco, who owns the business called Base Camp situated right at Benton Corners, announced on the Gardiner, NY Facebook group that the “Stop Ahead” signals were in the process of being installed on 44/55. “The actual traffic light will be going in sooner than we think,” Manco predicted. “I can’t speak to an actual date, but this is all really positive news for our community.” He posted photographs of the westbound signal, and a few days later added video footage of the approach to it.
On March 11, Gardiner Town supervisor Marybeth Majestic confirmed, “The flashing sign heading west on Route 44/55 has been installed, but it is not yet operational. Next, they need to install the flasher heading east on Route 44/55. I have not been given a date for the traffic light install, but I will reach out to the NYS DOT to see if they have a date for the light to be installed.”
Most of the collisions at Benton’s Corners have reportedly been caused by eastbound motorists picking up speed on their way down from the Shawangunk Ridge and not being able to see approaching traffic on Bruynswick Road in time to slow down, due to a bend in 44/55 shortly before the intersection.