Roads are a quality of life issue

My turn by State Sen. James Skoufis

| 06 Mar 2020 | 02:01

What’s the first thing we notice when driving?

The condition of the road. Our roads really matter in people’s day-to-day life, especially in a region that lacks many mass-transportation options.

Parents shouldn’t have to worry about getting their kids to school safely because there are potholes on hilly roads or crumbling bridges, and our first responders shouldn’t be held up attending to emergencies because the roadways are overly congested.

That’s why I've long focused on bringing our Hudson Valley region the funding, support and advocacy it needs to become a place where our roads and bridges are smooth and safe for travel.

Residents are desperate for traffic relief and we must act rapidly in order to enhance our communities’ quality of life. Any new considerations of residential or commercial development must be smart-growth and well-planned, which includes improvements to infrastructure and diligent analyses of impacts on our environment.

We hit the ground running last year, securing approximately $23.6 million across the district in bridge repairs and replacements alone. Local residents and I are delighted to finally get the $150 million Exit 131 interchange upgraded, alleviating an area that is all-too-familiar with unmanageable traffic.

We had even more local wins in 2019, including targeted Route 32 maintenance in New Windsor at the Union Avenue, Old Forge Hill Road, and Old Temple Hill Road intersections as well as $1.8 million to fully repave Route 32 along downtown Highland Mills.

In 2020, there will be even more roadwork: Route 52 between Pine Bush and Walden; Route 32 in Plattekill; Route 32 in New Windsor; Route 44/55 in Plattekill; Route 9W in Marlborough; and Route 94 in New Windsor. There’s much more to do, however.

Additional projects that I will be pushing:

1. Expanding Route 17 to three lanes in each direction. We recently secured a commitment from the Senate Transportation Committee’s Chairman to publicly support this project. Recently, at a Department of Transportation Budget Hearing, I questioned the DOT Commissioner on plans to include construction funding for Route 17 in the upcoming two-year capital plan and I won’t stop fighting until we get answers.

2. Repaving Route 17M in Monroe and Harriman. Everyone who drives over Route 17M knows that it is riddled with potholes and makes what should be an easy commute, a stressful one. This year, I’ll be pushing for funds for a full repaving of Route 17M and replacing the road's derelict bridge in Chester.

3. Train Station at Woodbury Common. Last year, I secured $5 million from the state's railroad fund for a new train station at Woodbury Common. Additionally, I secured a commitment from the MTA to support the project and provide any technical expertise required to move the train station forward. Between traffic relief and environmental impacts, a train station at Woodbury Common makes a lot of sense - and no further expansion at the mall should be allowed without it.

Every year since being elected to state government, I have focused on the importance of improving the Hudson Valley’s long-neglected, crumbling infrastructure and I won't stop fighting until we restore our community's roads and bridges. I look forward to fighting to advance these important projects that will specifically alleviate congestion caused by overdevelopment occurring in our area and I encourage my constituents to always reach out to my office with issues or concerns.