Letter to NYS-DOT regarding Cornwall Town Roads +

on Friday, 03 March 2017. Posted in 9W

Thomas McIntyre

Assistant Commissioner

NYS-DOT Region 8

Eleanor Roosevelt State Office Building

4 Burnett Blvd.

Poughkeepsie, NY  12603

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your insights regarding issues I presented to you at the NYS Association of Towns conference in NYC.  I'd like to continue the discussion of the below points at your earliest convenience.  I know that many of my fellow residents, and to a certain extent residents of Highland Falls and New Windsor share my concerns and are very interested in positive outcomes.

  1. Indefinite closure of Scenic Storm King Highway [Route 218].  The closure appears to be an over-reaction to occasional falling rocks.  If there are more definitive issues, they haven’t been well-communicated to the Cornwall Town Board or media.  Once the most expensive road ever built in America this scenic highway is a local, county, State and National treasure.  It is not unlike other roads in the area [NYS Route 9W or NYS Route 6] that have sheer cliffs with occasion falling rocks - yet those roads remain open and cleared of snow.

    1. Rt. 218 is a vital link between West Point Military Academy, Cornwall and beyond.  Traffic through the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson on a daily basis brings considerable commerce to businesses along Hudson St.  A completely different type of visitor - tourists - are regular customers of Hudson St. businesses on weekends and by extension Main St. in the Town of Cornwall. 

    2. Rt. 218 is a critical bypass when Rt. 9W is closed due to the frequency of accidents on that highway.   When Rt. 218 and Rt. 9W is closed , the only alternative is to follow Rt. 32 west to Harriman and take the Thruway to Rt. 6.   That is a significant bypass both in distance and travel time.

    3. Rt. 218 is a recreational road used by runners, hikers and cyclists.  Cyclists in particular need an alternative to 9W to travel north and south along the west side of the Hudson River.

  2. Rt. 9W:  If NYS-DOT is so concerned about the welfare of drivers on Rt. 218 - they should be doubly concerned about the numerous accidents on Rt. 9W.  If a road needed to be closed to save lives – 9W would be the road to close!  Since closing the road is not an option, reducing the speed to 45 mph from the beginning of the sweeping turns in Highland Falls all the way through Cornwall should be undertaken immediately with strict enforcement.  My understanding is that 45 mph is the original speed limit on the road – not merely the suggested speed through the sharp turns.  

    1. If it hasn’t been addressed, known areas where ice melt occurs that can re-freeze on the road surface creating a significant hazard to drivers should be mitigated by redirecting the flow down the roadside or higher up on the cliff to disperse the flow.

  3. The intersection of Mountain Rd. and 9W is an extremely hazardous intersection.  It is frightening to enter 9W in either direction from Mountain Rd. because of the nearly blind turn on the 9W northbound lanes that gives little reaction time for 9W drivers and Mountain Rd. drivers alike – particular given the speed limit of 55 mph.  Ditto for southbound traffic on 9W.  Signage warnings of the intersection do little to relieve the stress of negotiating turning onto 9W at the present speed limit.

  4. The intersection of Continental Rd. and 9W is also a danger due to the 55 mph speed limit.  Turning left onto Continental from south-bound 9W requires some nerve as one watches vehicles behind not always notice that the car in front of them is stationary with turn signal flashing – often changing to the right lane only just in time.  I fear being rear-ended every time I approach this turn.   The turn also must be made deliberately slowly as the surface level of Continental Rd. is considerably lower than 9W.  This situation is even more problematic when approaching Continental Rd. from north-bound 9W and making a hard right onto south-bound Continental Rd.  The maneuver requires a near full stop to execute the turn with very fast downhill momentum nudging vehicles considerably over the 55 mph speed limit at that portion of the road.  From Continental Rd. there is only a half mile until the speed limit on 9W is lowered to 45 mph just past Angola Rd.

I don’t know the history of the breaks in the median on 9W between Willow Rd. and River Rd./Forge Hill Rd.  It is time to create true left turn opportunities as businesses on that strip are beginning to thrive and new housing currently under construction will create more traffic slowing and exiting at the Willow Rd. ramp.  The Town of Cornwall has just changed the zoning back to commercial and we anticipate development of more businesses.  The success of those businesses will depend on the ability of traffic flows on both sides of 9W to access their establishments.  Again, the 55 mph creates a difficult situation for drivers once the medians are re-opened.  Any potential business owner will question whether to locate on 9W without more left turn flexibility and unless the speeds are decreased to enable safer entry/exit.

Lastly, in an effort to improve the look of and desirability of Cornwall, we would like to enable the following initiatives along NYS-DOT roads:

$11.     Initiate an “adopt-an-exit” for the grassy triangles along 9W at Angola Rd., Quaker Ave., Willow Rd. and Rt. 218 [Academy Rd.]  for local service organizations and/or landscaping firms.  What is the process, restrictions, etc.  Sullivan County has a great program along Rt. 17.

$12.     Install improved Welcome to Cornwall signage on Rt. 32, Rt. 94 and Rt. 9W. Are approvals from DOT required?

$13.     We need to verify “Adopt-a-Highway” ownership to enable new groups to adopt sections of 9W, Rt. 32 and Rt. 94.  For instance, the section of Rt. 32 between “five corners” and Quaker Ave. has been sponsored by Cornwall Singles – which has not existed for many years.  The section of 9W between Forge Hill and Rt. 218 is sponsored by Bob DeWitt insurance.  That business was sold a few years ago.

$1a.      Are there any umbrella insurance options for local groups that cannot afford the $500 fee/event quoted by many independent insurance companies for highway clean-ups?

$14.     Grafitti clean-up on the Storm King Scenic Highway.  I’ve been in touch with Lisa Weiss regarding removal of the graffiti from the Overlook and parking areas.  The graffiti is hideous, persistent and the continued presence of the graffiti only encourages creation of more at higher heights.  We need to address this issue.

$15.     Garbage dumps at Storm King Scenic Highway parking lots.  Very large boulders meant to prevent dumping down the slopes of the mountainside have been moved and there are several large dumps – some apparently buried by NYS-DOT or their contractors when trenching along the roadside produced organic waste.  This situation is problematic considering some of these parking lots serve as scenic viewpoints.

$16.     Local groups are happy to work with the NYS-DOT and Pallisades Park Commission to provide surveillance cameras to document and apprehend vandals and litterers at several sites along the Storm King Scenic Highway.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  We look forward to discussing the above issues at your earliest convenience.

Michael Summerfield
Councilman, Town of Cornwall
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Town Supervisors and Council

20020-22  Richard Randazzo, Supervisor;  Council: Kerry McGuinness, Josh Wojehowski, Virginia Scott,  Helen Bunt* 

20016-19  Richard Randazzo, Supervisor;  Council: Kerry McGuinness, Michael Summerfield, Peter Russell (2018), Virginia Scott {2019),  Helen Bunt* 

20014-15  Randy Clark, Supervisor;  Council: Helen Bunt, Kerry McGuinness [1 yr], Betty Longinott, Peter Russell, Jim McGee* non-voting Deputy Supervisor

2012-13   Kevin Quigley, Supervisor, Council:  Randy Clark, Al Mazzaco, Betty Longinott, Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt*

20010-11   Kevin Quigley, Supervisor, Council:  Randy Clark, Al Mazzaco, Betty Longinott, Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt*

2008-09   Kevin Quigley, Supervisor; Council:  Randy Clark, Al Mazzaco, Betty Longinott, Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt*

2006-07   Richard Randazzo, Supervisor; Council:  Randy Clark, Al Mazzaco, Kerry McGuinness Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt*

2004-05   Richard Randazzo, Supervisor; Council: Randy Clark, Kerry McGuinness, [vacancy] Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt*

2002-03   Jim Sollami, Supervisor;  Council:  Daniel Rohe, Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt, David Lincoln, James Fanning*

2000-01   Helen Bunt, Supervisor; Council:  James Fanning, Daniel Rohe, Mary Beth Greene-Kraftt, David Lincoln

1998-99  Richard Randazzo, Supervisor; Council:  James Fanning, Helen Bunt, Robert Funck,  Karen Renfrey

1996-97  Richard Randazzo, Supervisor; Council:  James Fanning, Helen Bunt, Kevin Quigley, Robert Funck

1993-95  Kenn Brodmerkel, Supervisor; Council:  Anthony Cavallo, James Fanning, Kevin Quigley, Bryon Rostanzo


1989-91  Richard Randazzo, Supervisor; Council:  Irving Weeks, Graham Kelder, Curt Remfrey, James Fanning

 * indicates served as Deputy Town Supervisor