Group urges lawmakers to consider the impact casinos will have on traffic in Orange County

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:57

    SUGAR LOAF-The following is the statement that Patricia Gilchrest, president of the Orange County Citizens Foundation, was scheduled to submit at the public hearing March 3 at the public hearing on casino development in Sullivan County: The Orange County Citizens Foundation has monitored the casino development initiative in Sullivan County for several years. We recognize that casino development could offer economic opportunities for Sullivan County. We specifically are concerned with the traffic impact these casinos will have on Orange County and respectfully request that our federal and state lawmakers recognize this potential negative impact the casinos will have both on traffic and air quality in much of the mid-Hudson Valley, specifically along NYS Route 17. As I'm sure you are aware, Route 17 is used in Orange County as both an inter-regional and intra-county roadway. We use 17, not only to get from New York to other states and counties, but from one municipality to another within Orange County. Given the growth that has occurred in Orange County, there has been a significant increase in congestion on this roadway as well as our other roads. With the opening of the casinos we expect that congestion will significantly exacerbate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness for our businesses, and the quality of life for our residents. Most economic forecasts indicate that Orange County will continue to grow. Our governmental leaders struggle each day to manage this growth and to plan for the future. It is vital to our continued economic viability and quality of life that transportation infrastructure in our region keep pace with our growth. We ask that our legislators at all levels work with the New York State Department of Transportation to investigate initiatives that will mitigate any negative impacts on Route 17 in Orange County. As the New York State DOT's master plan advisory panel concluded late last year, New York's transportation network is in trouble. Our state lawmakers must focus on our failing transportation infrastructure now just to manage existing deterioration of our networks. Increasing traffic on a major highway, without identifying ways to mitigate the ensuing congestion would be even more detrimental to our future economic vitality and well-being. This is but one transportation issue that must be addressed. (The Orange County Citizens Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that oversees cooperation and dialogue between Orange County residents, businesses and government entities to safeguard the county's historic and cultural heritage, to preserve open space, agriculture, clean air and a serene environment, and to encourage improvement in jobs, transportation, parks and recreation and government.)