Letter: Bridge Bottleneck

It is incredible that the New York State Department of Transportation has not addressed the bottleneck on Route 9D approaching the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

Increasingly, 9D is gridlocked by westbound commuters waiting to enter the bridge. During morning and evening rush hours, northbound traffic on 9D is commonly backed up to Verplanck Avenue. In the evening, especially after a train arrives, traffic is sometimes backed up to Main Street in Beacon and beyond.

The intersection of Route 9D and I-84 at the bridge (Google Maps)

Only one of the three northbound lanes of 9D turns onto the bridge. I propose converting the middle northbound lane into a second left-turn-only lane feeding traffic onto the bridge. This would be similar to the existing two lanes that lead onto the ramp to the bridge on the Newburgh side.

I have spoken to local Department of Transportation officials about the problem. Additionally, I expressed my displeasure with the situation last week to the Department of Transportation commissioner at a joint legislative budget hearing of the Transportation Committee.

As more and more residents commute from the Metro-North station in Beacon, it is critical that this situation be addressed.

Jonathan Jacobson, Albany
Jacobson represents the 104th district, which includes Beacon and Newburgh, in the state Assembly.

5 thoughts on “Letter: Bridge Bottleneck

  1. Why ease access for more and more vehicles to our congested local roadway system when we can alleviate regional commuter issues with low-cost, system-level solutions at the ready?

    The bottleneck issue on Route 9D between the Metro-North Beacon station and the access roads to the Hamilton Fish bridge seems driven by the increasing numbers of vehicles operated by commuters moving over the bridge on a daily basis.

    Instead of jamming more commuter vehicles on a multipurpose bridge, our leaders must ferry these commuters between the Beacon train station and the other side of the Hudson. The Beacon-Newburgh ferry must become a linchpin of our regional conveyance infrastructure, as it historically has been for centuries. A quick shot across the Hudson for thousands of commuters leverages the best — and cheapest — assets our region has to offer while moving commuters about the area in the most effective manner available. In fact, a relatively small investment by the state to pay fully for robust ferry service will free up pathways new and old throughout the entire region, taking our local economy to another level of activity as well.

  2. And once you get through those 9D backups you creep into the even bigger backup created by construction work on the Newburgh side of the bridge which seems never ending and causes bumper-to-bumper, parking-lot conditions on I-84 well east of Beacon and on Friday afternoons all the way to Fishkill.

    The whole situation is a mess. Thank you, Jonathon Jacobson, for speaking up.

  3. I would like to second the call for increased and improved ferry service. Current ferry service is good, but if it ran longer hours (both morning and evening rush hours), more people would use it. Every person that rides the ferry to Newburgh is likely one less car on the road.

  4. I think there is a far bigger issue here: chronic underinvestment over so many decades in the transportation infrastructure in and along I-84 corridor, and most glaringly at and near the Beacon-Newburgh bridge. This bridge, even as it was built decades after the one to immediate the north (the Mid Hudson), and to immediate the south (the Bear Mountain), is not comparable to either of them in terms of capability, reliability, appearance, and safety, and is now totally inadequate to its all-too-evident great increase in demand and utilization as has developed. Compare: a two-span weak cantilever design at the Beacon-Newburgh vs. a far more robust tower suspension design, in much better shape, even if decades older, to the immediate north and the south.

    Bluntly this bridge needs to be scrapped and replaced with something far better.

    But that’s not all. A great deal of this commuter and truck traffic needs to be transferred to passenger and freight rail, east-west, running along or near the same I-84 corridor, connecting, for example, to the Hudson Line at the Beacon Station, connecting to the Stewart Airport, and perhaps going as far eventually as Connecticut and Pennsylvania. This likely also means a rail tunnel under the river. Maybe two tunnels.

    Yes, tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed for a project which will take perhaps two or three decades to complete (but this should have been done long ago when it would have been cheaper and when the U.S. dollar had real value).

    Where should the money come from? Most of it should come from the federal government, of course. I-84 is an interstate traffic corridor. The federal government is where our tax money goes, where it gets wasted, lost, or simply vanishes into untold secret and special interest projects and budgets, and unjustified tax breaks for a small number of very large corporations and a few very wealthy individuals.

    Who should be, and should have been, fighting for the money to fix this situation? The state’s U.S. Senators and the U.S. Congressmen should be, and over the last several decades, should have been fighting for this money. The state, and the state’s representatives can help, and should have been helping, with some seed money and with some of the planning and the details, and with education and promotion. Did it happen? No.


    Alas, when New York thinks big, it thinks tax breaks for trillion-dollar corporations, typically run by dubious and eventually-to-be-discredited individuals, and large if not multi-national corporations, not yet adequately discredited. And when the federal government thinks big, it thinks walls, wars, white elephant weapon systems, waste, and tax breaks for the wealthy; it thinks the denial of constitutional protections, and the denial of safe, affordable, effective and convenient transportation options for everyone else.

    There are, at this moment, just a very few, and mostly young and very newly elected, representatives who are waking up. Mostly this is due to increasing public pressure from a public that is waking up and decrying the decades-old failures of our governments, and of our governmental systems, as they were constituted, and as they have been further, and most ingeniously and systematically, subverted.

  5. Jacobson’s call for the Department of Transportation to do something about the traffic backup on Route 9D at I-84 is a good example of why our civilization will never seriously address the dilemmas we face. Unlike the commentator who suggested building up the ferry service, Jacobson stamped his feet but made no mention of any solutions other than further accommodation of automobile traffic.

    Route 9D has already been widened into a busy highway that cuts residents off from the waterfront and makes Beacon less bikeable and walkable, supposedly a goal in the comprehensive plan. Will we ever walk the walk? How about, in addition to re-energizing the ferry service, adding bike lockers at the train station, or creating a safe bike lane from the bridge exit to the station, or developing incentives for those who arrive at the train station without an automobile surrounding them, including fare reductions?

    Elon Musk will not be leading an armada of electric, self-driving SUVs to Mars anytime soon, so we might want to start be-having more sanely, or waiting a couple of minutes to cross a bridge will be the least of our children’s problems.