Sandra Suits has no gripe with the industrial development along Route 7.
But whenever the retired Schalmont teacher finds herself waiting for tractor-trailers to pass through the guard shack of Galesi Group’s Rotterdam Corporate Park, she wonders why the two-lane state road hasn’t grown along with the frenzied pace of development.
“It impacts all of [Route 7] from Princetown all the way to the five corners [of Rotterdam],” she said. “It’s just mind-boggling the truck traffic that goes through,”
Suits, a resident of the Antonia Hills development off Route 7, said the truck traffic has grown increasingly troublesome in the last three years, as large-scale distribution centers such as Railex, FedEx and Price Chopper’s freezer warehouse have opened. She said these trucks sometimes seek shortcuts down the smaller roads.
“The traffic is getting out of control here, and the roads are the same roads,” she said.
Truck traffic passing through the 2.5-mile stretch of Route 7 in Rotterdam — also known as Duanesburg Road — has become an increasing issue for residents. Complaints range from traffic congestion near the corporate park entrance to motor vehicle accidents near the Interstate 88 interchange; others have complained of tractor-trailers parking along the road near the Quickway truck stop.
Traffic issues were a main concern brought up last month during a public hearing by the Princetown Planning Board for the McLane Foodservice Inc. project proposed for a property opposite the I-88 ramp. Some residents said the 24-hour seven-day distribution center would make things worse on Route 7.
While Route 7 is slated for some minor improvements, Department of Transportation spokesman Peter Van Keuren there are no plans to drastically change the roadway. He said the turning lane is to be extended along Becker Drive and the road shoulder is to be reduced and no-parking signs will also be placed in the area.
However, Van Keuren said studies have shown the portion of Route 7 near the corporate park and Golub’s offices isn’t in need of improvements. He said traffic in that area — about 14,000 vehicle trips per day — wouldn’t be improved by adding more traffic control devices.
“Average delays were comparable to what would be expected at a traffic signal,” he said. “We didn’t think anything was appropriate at this time.”
Van Keuren admitted the area has experienced a significant increase in both residential and commercial development over the past decade and that DOT would reinvestigate any complaints. But ultimately, he said, some of the issues may end up being the price the area will have to pay for economic development.
“It’s kind of a Catch-22.”
But Dave Buiko, Galesi’s chief operating officer, said the new companies locating in the corporate park haven’t increased truck traffic much more than in previous years. He said the park’s truck traffic is largely a factor of the business done by Distribution Unlimited, its largest tenant.
Galesi also funded more than $500,000 worth of improvements near the entrance to the park last year, so that traffic can move more fluidly. Buiko said the guard shack was moved back and a third entrance was added; frequent visitors also carry passes that allow them to move in and out of the park without stopping.
“Historically, we’ve had more traffic than this in the past,” he said.
Deputy Chief William Manikas said the Rotterdam Police have witnessed an increase in traffic congestion along Route 7. He said the main problem facing police are the truckers that sometimes park on the roadside.
Manikas said police have responded to five accidents near the intersection over the past three months. He said some of them resulted from drivers turning onto Route 7 and having a poor line of sight because of the parked trucks.
“Obviously, once its posted no-parking, we can remove the trucks,” he said. “But as long as they’re off the roadway its technically legal.”
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