GREENPORT—On the surface—road and conceptual—it’s a good idea. A roundabout just east of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge will help facilitate traffic flow.
But achieving this currently requires a complex detour through Hudson, bringing more unwelcome truck traffic to residential as well as commercial neighborhoods in the city.
No longer will those wishing to walk west across the bridge have to run full speed across two lanes of traffic, none of it managed by stoplights, in order to reach the sidewalk. Part of the project is a “pedestrian-friendly” intersection at Routes 9G and 23 “walkable” to Olana State Historic Site and the bridge.
The new roundabout, now under construction, sits in the center of new, walkable access to Olana State Historic Site, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
New sidewalks and 25 additional parking spaces will help connect Olana with the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill.
Sidewalks from the parking lot will lead visitors to the northern entrance of Olana and to the new Hudson River Skywalk, described as a scenic pedestrian trail linking the two historic sites.
Construction on the $4.5 million roundabout reportedly began on time this week. The roundabout and parking lot are scheduled to open this fall, with the project to be completed by year’s end, except for landscaping, which will go in next spring.
Road construction always brings some inconvenience, however, for drivers of personal and commercial vehicles. Denizens of Hudson, lower Greenport, Livingston and Germantown driving north-south were ready to avoid the intersection with a variety of scenic detours on the surrounding county roads.
No one—state and local officials alike—realized that the construction would reroute trucks of all sizes through the streets of Hudson. The first inkling of this came last weekend when signs with detour directions, temporarily covered in black, went up on Warren Street.
As reported by Carole Osterink on her Gossips of Rivertown blog, state transportation officials, apparently fearing that the work zone would not be wide enough for northbound trucks, devised a detour through the city streets of Hudson: across Third Street, up Columbia Street to Park Place, at the Seventh Street Park, over Park Place to Warren Street, up Warren Street to Worth Avenue and out to Route 9. At the intersection with Route 23, the trucks head west to the bridge—a detour of nine and a half miles, Ms. Osterink reports.
All of the state materials stress the pedestrian-friendly nature of the roundabout, and the walkable access to Olana and the bridge. While the detour brings to the walkable city of Hudson more trucks in addition to those that already ply the city’s streets, making deliveries to Hudson businesses and the chain stores on Fairview Avenue.
“I was completely surprised by this,” Hudson Mayor Rick Rector said Tuesday.
“Neither my office nor local officials were given advance notice of this detour or the signs,” Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th) said in a statement.
The state Department of Transportation is divided into regions. Columbia County is in Region 8, the Hudson Valley Region. Governor Andrew Cuomo supported this tourism initiative and announced it in his 2018 State of the State address. The project was subsequently moved to Region 1, the Capital District Region. Officials and staff in that region are not normally involved in projects in and around Hudson.
Tuesday Mr. Rector said he and Ms. Barrett had met with DOT officials that afternoon. “I can’t say more right now, but we are all looking for an alternative to detouring trucks through Hudson during the roundabout project,” he said.