The week ending Oct. 24 has been dubbed Hudson Valley Climate Solutions Week. In that spirit, it’s worth pointing out a solution that the region has dragged its heels on: improved public transportation.
Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. We have to address this by electrifying vehicles of all kinds, but that is not enough. We also must build cities and neighborhoods where people can drive less, which means walkable Main Streets with usable public transportation.
We’ve known this for a long time. In fact, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council identified better transit as an important solution in its 2013 regional sustainability plan. And yet, in Dutchess County, local buses stop running on Sunday, cutting people off from work, worship and the ability to run errands or visit family and friends. Even the Beacon Free Loop idles on Sunday, though Main Street businesses and major attractions keep their doors open.
Putnam County offers even less, with no regularly scheduled bus service to destinations like the NewYork-Presbyterian medical office in Cold Spring or shops and services along Route 9.
This lack of service makes it harder for Highlands families to get by with one car, let alone go car-free. It raises obstacles to people’s economic mobility and our ability to meet climate goals. Fixing this is well within the power of county officials, given the number of state and federal funding programs available for improved transit.
Steven Higashide, Beacon
The Fjord Trail design for the Breakneck connector section is fundamentally flawed. The current plan retains the limited and dangerous parking along Route 9D and adds three signaled crosswalks, which would result in gridlock on busy days and present a continuing safety hazard year-round.
The answer is to physically separate pedestrian and vehicular thru-traffic, not to add traffic-calming measures to what is a primary transportation link.
The first priority is safety. This means hikers must have a dedicated route that is off the road and off the tracks. Since the trail can be routed on land over the rail tunnel, a bridge over the tracks is nice to have but not essential. However, there is no way to provide a safe crossing of 9D without a bridge due to the steep cliffs at the north end of the road tunnel.
The clear solution is that the bridge should go over the road, not the tracks. Perhaps there could also be another parking lot on the east side of 9D as the demand for parking near the trailheads creates a considerable amount of desperate and dangerous parking behavior.
This is an important project: Let’s avoid an expensive and painful design error and consider all the people who use the corridor, visitors and local residents, as equal stakeholders. There exist design solutions, but not as embodied in the current design proposal.
Stefan Kuzminski, Cold Spring