One of the biggest traffic headaches in the Hudson Valley has been alleviated. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Orange County recently to announce the completion of a major transportation hub.
Governor Cuomo said in early 2017 that the $150 million design-build project at the Woodbury Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub would be accelerated, and he announced the project’s details at that time. He was near Woodbury Common Premium Outlets Thursday to announce the project’s completion.
“So the goal is to expedite transportation, right? Make it easy for people to get to you,” Cuomo said. “Certainly don't frustrate people. Don't make it hard to get to you. And that's exactly what we have done in the Woodbury Commons area.”
Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus:
“Governor Cuomo accelerated this project through a new design-build method, and now the Woodbury Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub is complete five years ahead of schedule and right before the holidays,” said Neuhaus.
“He understands the importance of getting it done quickly because anyone who’s driven through Woodbury, through the Commons and through the Woodbury Commons areas for shopping, knows that the traffic is miserable and untenable,” said Neuhaus.
“Steve you used the word "miserable." It has been horrendous. I mean, Woodbury Commons is one of the greatest international tourist destinations and it has been a horrendous situation to get there,” said Cuomo. “The traffic pattern was designed in the ‘50s. No one anticipated the growth of the entire region, nobody anticipated the growth of Woodbury Commons. But the entire road system just did not work.”
Calling it a massive undertaking, Cuomo says Route 17 at Route 32 (Exit 131) was reconfigured into a so-called Diverging Diamond Interchange. This will allow traffic to freely make left and right hand turns with no opposing traffic, and ease access to the New York State Thruway and Route 17.
“And I want to thank the community that dealt with us through the construction, and also endured the pain and the hardship for all the years leading up to this,” Cuomo said. “But the bottom line is we did it, and we did it together, and it did work, and we did it ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt’s 99th District includes the Town of Woodbury.
“It was a long time in coming. My constituents and commuters throughout the region have been dealing with the construction but, now that it’s complete, this is a great massive investment in the infrastructure in the 99th Assembly District. And we’re certainly going to see it tested come Black Friday and the peak holiday shopping times,” Schmitt says. “But it was a really important project and it’s going to have not just a localized impact in Woodbury but it really impacts any regional commuter and resident.”
His wife commutes to work through the area, and Schmitt frequently drives there.
“She called me as she was driving though it this morning, so, on a daily basis, every night I hear about it and certainly during the construction, I know my frustration, her frustration and the constituents’ frustration but, based on what we’re seeing now, let’s hope that that is in the past and we can look forward to smooth driving and safe driving for many years to come,” says Schmitt.
Cuomo further details the completed project.
“Two new bridges, adding additional lengths to 32, and raising the capacity of Route 17 to interstate standards, right, because Route 17 has been a problem for a long time and we do need a comprehensive solution for Route 17,” said Cuomo.
And, for the Monroe-Woodbury School District, there’s a new High School Drive Extension expressly for school bus traffic, connecting the high school with the elementary school. There also are reconfigured parking lots.
Introducing Cuomo, Neuhaus commended the Democratic governor for another project.
“In less than nine months, we are going to be opening the most transformational new thing in the Hudson Valley scene — the new Legoland — biggest one in this country,” Neuhaus said. “I will tell you, this would not have happened without the support of Governor Cuomo. He made this happen.”
Legoland New York in Goshen is slated to open July 4.
The Woodbury project includes a new 200 space park-and-ride lot with four electric car charging station stalls, and a green bus shelter using solar power and high efficiency lighting.