The intersection of Gatehouse Road and Route 299 may be modified to reduce safety issues of low visibility and excessive speeds.
New Paltz Highway Superintendent Chris Marx has a plan to realign the Gatehouse Road intersection. Instead of a wide intersection where people are now turning onto Gatehouse with excessive speed, Marx wants to join 299 closer to a 90-degree angle. Approaching the intersection, a deceleration lane alongside Route 299 would be added to decrease the speed of drivers turning onto Gatehouse.
“The idea is to help avoid any accidents that may occur there,” Marx said.
According to Marx, people coming out of Gatehouse have trouble seeing traffic when trying to merge onto the state route. If the intersection was closer to a right angle, it would give people higher visibility to see traffic looking both east and west.
Marx said changing the intersection would be “relatively easy and fairly cheap.” Since there is already a 10 foot strip of blacktop there, it is just a matter of narrowing it. Signs for the new traffic pattern would be posted to warn locals of the road changes.
Marx said the changes would only really affect one private driveway. The driveway has two entrances, but one entrance would need to be removed or extended into the new traffic pattern.
Another major request has been a speed-limit reduction to 45 mph on Route 299. According to the Town Planning Board chairman Mike Calimano, this reduction would begin from the Carmine Liberta Bridge to Route 44/55. Since 299 is a state road, the board needs permission from the state to reduce its speed. The board needs to complete a study on the number of accidents and layout of the road to receive permission for the reduction from the state Department of Transportation.
“We hope to get some funding from the Ulster County Transportation Council and also help from the Ulster County of Department of Public Works to put the study together,” Calimano said.
When the study is finished and shows sufficient data on the unsafe conditions, the board will request the speed-limit reduction to the State Department of Transportation.
“It’s a process,” Calimano said. “You’re not going to see a new speed limit by the summer.”
Issues as serious as the Gatehouse intersection don’t happen very often. When the board plans applications, issues of speed rarely come up, Calimano said.
Another proposal plans to develop a parking area for 90 cars near the Testimonial Gateway to hopefully prevent people from parking alongside Butterville Road, which can be unsafe for approaching vehicles. In the towns of New Paltz, Gardiner, Marbletown and Rochester, parking lots were created to stop people from parking on the road and Calimano said, “it’s worked pretty well in those places.”
The planning board has heard a lot of cases from drivers and people who live on Gatehouse Road of unsafe conditions at the state road intersection from several public hearings. By seeing how many people this intersection affects, Calimano said the Town Planning Board is trying to kick-start Marx’s plan.