K’hook looks for ways to slow its ‘lead-foot’ drivers

KINDERHOOK–The Village of Kinderhook Traffic Calming Committee held a public meeting April 26 at the newly named Van Buren Hall to review the findings and options of a traffic study by the engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff. The board hired the firm last fall to monitor the safety of a few village roads and to suggest ways to slow motorists traveling through the community.

About 30 people attended the meeting on the second floor of the Village Hall, to hear the results of the study which looked at traffic on Albany Street, Hudson Street, Williams Street, Eichybush Road and Gaffney Lane.

Automatic Traffic Recorders where placed along parts of those streets for several days to “record volumes, speeds and vehicle class data,” according to the report from the traffic engineering firm.

Village Mayor Jim Dunham, a member of the committee, said in his opening remarks that Route 9 was not included in the study because it is a state road. “We just don’t have jurisdiction on Route 9,” he said.

At a special board session the night before the traffic meeting, the mayor and the Village Board reviewed a letter to the state requesting a lower speed limit on Route 9 in center of the village. Mr. Dunham said at that earlier session that trucks use the route to travel to travel to and from stores in Greenport and he doesn’t think the state will reroute trucks to state Route 9H.

“I do think we have a chance to lower the speed limit,” he said and he repeated that statement at the traffic committee meeting, saying the board suggested consideration of a 30 mph limit on Route 9 from the Stewart’s store at the north end of the village south to a spot outside the village business district.

As for village roads, residents at the meeting looked speeding data presented by Ben Wolfe from Parsons Brinkerhoff. He said that “while you do have some high speeds… they are not terribly excessive.” He observed that on some roads drivers got up to 70 mph in a 30 mph zone but that most of the speeding happens between 7 and 10 a.m., commuting times in the village. “Most of the high speeds are during the day,” he said.

And he told the audience of village residents that “the worst speeders are probably sitting next to you.”

Mr. Wolfe talked about traffic calming methods that can be used, like speed humps, sidewalk bump-outs at crosswalks and signs, especially signs announcing that people are entering the village. But he cautioned against adding stop signs, saying that people tend to stop and then speed up to the next sign.

Rima Bostick, a resident of Williams Street, took issue with where the recorders were placed on her road. She talked about people speeding as they come over the hill on Williams Street and turn onto Hudson Street.

Others talked about Route 9 and the truck traffic being a major issue. Committee member Laura Darman suggested that residents send letters to the state expressing their concerns, which might help get the speed reduced. The point, she said, was “sharing our stories, what it’s like to live with the traffic, the wear and tear on the houses.”

Audrey Peckner, a Broad Street resident, talked about trucks being an issue starting at 3 a.m. She also took issue with the speeds that were considered acceptable in the study.

“I think the study actually minimizes the speeders,” she said.

Another resident asked about the next step now that the village has this data. Mayor Dunham said the board would look into the recommendations and decide what traffic calming steps to take. He said that the start of the meeting that the village already budgeted for a digital message sign telling drivers how fast they are going. He also talked about moving the current village entrance signs so that they are more visible.

Residents had concerns about making big changes, like stop signs and speed bumps, before doing smaller things. Mr. Wolfe said that speed humps, which would cost about $5,200 each, could be removed in winter for snow plows, adding that they don’t stop drivers but just slow them down.

Committee member Brain Murphy, who lives on Gaffney Lane, said that speeding has been a problem on his street for many years and something needs to be done. He said he was in favor of speed humps. “My perception is that it’s dangerous,” he said of the traffic on the road.

When asked by resident Alexandra Anderson how Kinderhook’s traffic problems compared to other villages the firm has worked with, Brain Doherty, also from Parsons Brinkerhoff, said, “I wouldn’t say you are much different than other villages.”

The full report is posted on the village website, www.villageofkindehrook.org.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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