The New Paltz Transportation Implementation Committee (TIC), which is responsible for creating and improving transportation methods in town, proposed an access management plan intended to improve accessibility for both pedestrians and drivers on Main Street.
Once adopted, the access management plan could limit or reduce accessibility to major roads to increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists as well as facilitate traffic flow.
Unlike any other recommendation that TIC has proposed in the past, the access management plan is the first one that will be required to change an existing law. TIC Chairwoman Gail Gallerie said the proposed access management regulations will be an addition to Chapter 140 of the town’s zoning law.
“The access management plan is evidence of how land use planning can affect traffic so making planners and developers mindful of these considerations is a goal toward which we’re making progress,” she said.
According to a report by the town’s 2006 Transportation and Land Use Project Board, access management is key in controlling the location, spacing, design and operation of driveways, median openings, interchanges and street connections to a roadway.
The report also states that limiting and consolidating access along major roadways will preserve roadway capacity and increase safety, as well as promote a supporting street system for development and mobility within town.
Second-year business management major Amanda Morgewicz said she frequently runs into traffic bottlenecks at busy intersections and entrances for shops on Main Street when she drives in town, which leads to some planning ahead on her part in order to avoid traffic.
“I usually try to avoid the center of town by taking back roads because of how tight Main Street is,” she said. “Tractor trailers really block up the roads when shops and restaurants are getting deliveries, especially now that there is snow on the roads and they’re even more crowded than usual. Whenever I need to get to a place in the center of town I try and park on a side street to avoid frustration and the hectic stop lights.”
Chronic congestion in New Paltz is perceived as an inconvenience and causes people to modify their travel behavior by choosing not to travel, changing their departure times and their travel routes — which is what the access management plan is hoping to fix.
According to Gallerie, the proposed access management change was the result of these discussions over the course of seven years with representatives of the New York State Department of Transportation and Planning Board attorney.
As of now, the proposal is currently before the Town of New Paltz Planning Board for consideration. The next step in the process will be for the Planning Board to recommend it to the Town Council. Gallerie said since a change to an existing law is being proposed, a public hearing would be held before the Town Council could vote to adopt it, then the revision would have to be filed with the state.
Gallerie said she can’t predict how long this process will take, but it is conceivable that the process could be completed by this summer.
“The proposed change would affect only new sites or changes to existing sites undergoing review by the Planning Board,” she said. “Although the revision to the law could go into effect as soon as adopted and filed, its actual application will depend on the progress of new development proposals or site plan revisions.”