Kiryas Joel hopes to build a 1/3-mile roadway on recently acquired land to create a shortcut to Route 17 for its residents and to alleviate congestion on Village of Monroe streets.
The project is “crucial” to village residents and their neighbors, said Kiryas Joel Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin. However, he acknowledged that it may be “some time” before the road is built.
Nevertheless, Monroe Village Mayor Neil Dwyer already is endorsing the proposal. “It’s a great idea,” he said. “A real win-win.”
‘Larkin Avenue Extension’
The road is part of a longer road parallel to Route 17– the so-called “Larkin Avenue Extension”– that was conceived 15 years ago but shelved for lack of funding.
The stretch of the roadway that Kiryas Joel wants to build now would run from Route 208 – which has an exit off Route 17 - to Schunnemunk Road, a narrow twisting town road that leads to a bridge that crosses over Route 17 into Kiryas Joel.
Schunnemunk Road turns into Schunnemunk Street in the village. The new roadway would siphon off traffic from this short street’s frequently clogged intersection with North Main Street.
“There’s a lot of delay,” Szegedin said. “Sometimes 20 or 30 cars are lined up” waiting to get through.
Many commuters drive through the village on their way to New York City. Woodbury Common shoppers also use the route, Szegedin said.
Traffic coming into and out of the village has been a big issue for Monroe for years.
A traffic count compiled by the village during a 10-day period in 20l9 found that nearly 50,000 cars traveled on Schunnemunk Street, as many as 600 an hour during an early Friday afternoon.
Speed limit frequently ignored
The street has a posted speed limit of 25 miles an hour. The traffic study found that more than 20.4 percent of cars using the street were traveling at 36 mph and above.
“It doesn’t look like a road that could handle 50,000 cars,” Dwyer said.
To have that many cars crowding into village is a hazard, said Szegedin, who pointed out that one of Monroe’s two firehouses is located at the North Main Street intersection. Moreover, he said that village streets leading to Kiryas Joel have weight limits that sometimes hamper deliveries.
The 22-acre parcel for the project was purchased on Feb. 16 for $4.3 million from ABM Bujlders Corp. by Kiryas Joel, Palm Tree, a town with the same borders as the village, and Ezras Choilim Health Center, which is located in Kiryas Joel.
The health center apparently is eyeing the land for a new medical center. Kiryas Joel also is proposing a 350-space park-and-ride lot, which could be used by Monroe travelers as well as those from Kiryas Joel, Szegedin said.
Approval needed from the state and the Town of Monroe
Kiryas Joel is in the process of hiring an engineer to design its road. Before it can be built, it must get approval from the Town of Monroe and the state Department of Transportation. Constructions costs haven’t been estimated.
“This is not anywhere near the approval stage,” said Monroe Supervisor Anthony Cardone. “There is a lot that has to go into this before it is even considered for approval.”