Red Hook planners hear from traffic expert on Feller Newmark project

Independent engineer echoes concerns about sight line distances that speed changes won’t mitigate

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The Red Hook Planning Board convened on Dec. 17 for further discussion on the controversial 11-lot subdivision planned for Feller-Newmark Road, a meeting highlighted by the analysis of William Fitzpatrick, an independent traffic expert hired by the board to review the plan.

The meeting began with a presentation by Michael Bodendorf, representing the developer, Landmark Properties, in which he outlined road changes that he said would improve sight lines for the proposed entrance to the new cul-de-sac.

“We need to cut the road down about two feet… what we propose to do is put [in] a new vertical curve,” said Bodendorf referring to the road slope along the tight curve where the entrance is sited. “We [will] meet all of [the] criteria with the exception of sight distance to the left. We can improve that with a little bit more right-of-way clearing as far as vegetation.”

Tree removal would also be required on the south side of the road, he said, along with significant regrading that may or may not be solely within the town’s right-of-way.

“We don’t know exactly where that right of way line is,” said Bodendorf. “But if you were to superimpose a right-of-way line 25 feet offset from the center of the road, we do go beyond that.”

Fitzpatrick then began his presentation and quickly cut to the chase in his review of the applicant’s traffic study.

“The traffic impact study…. did not address the most significant issues that were brought to the attention of the planning board during the public hearing: essentially issues of safety, vehicular speeds and sight lines,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said his review found that the addition of 11 homes on the road should have little impact given the relatively small amount of traffic now on the road.

But he rejected the applicant’s recommendation that such a low volume of traffic could allow AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) sight line criteria to be reduced.

Saying he had never seen that criteria used, Fitzpatrick added, “I would not recommend it be used. Just because potential conflicts would occur less often doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the same standard of care — in this case, the sight lines.”

While there was some discussion of reducing the speed limit on that section of Feller-Newmark to better match the conditions, Fitzpatrick said that would not solve the problem.

“If you were able to get the speed limit reduced, I wouldn’t reduce the requirements for the sight lines,” he said.

The public hearing on the project continues on Jan. 28 at 7:30pm at Red Hook Town Hall.

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