The conundrum in Fonda over the increasing number of heavy trucks passing through the village on their way to the Johnstown Industrial Park is a common one in rural upstate areas. It’s known as the price that, more often than not, has to be paid for significant economic development.
It’s unfortunate that the village doesn’t benefit all that much from the Johnstown Industrial Park just a few miles to the north in Fulton County, and the roughly 1,700 tractor-trailer trucks that rumble from the Thruway through village streets on a daily basis are damaging property, threatening residents’ safety and compromising their quality of life. The situation is likely to grow even worse if a second industrial park gets built in Fulton County, as officials there hope.
Fonda officials have embraced the idea of a bypass route being constructed from the Thruway to Route 30A that would steer trucks away from the village. But they think that to appease village merchants, development along such a route should be restricted so truckers won’t stop patronizing village businesses. It seems impossible to have it both ways, of course: Either you want the trucks (and the business they generate) or you don’t.
On balance, the village would probably be better off without them, which is why Montgomery County should be party to the $500,000 bypass feasibility study the state recently agreed to provide 80 percent of the funding for. Even if Fonda and Fultonville businesses would suffer a bit with fewer trucks coming off Thruway Exit 28, the overall economic impact in the region — including Montgomery County — would surely offset these losses.
The bypass needs to be studied, but if at all possible any solution should involve using existing roads instead of building new ones. It would not only be cheaper that way, but preferable in terms of the farmland and forest that would have to be sacrificed if new roads were built.