Woodbury preps for ‘Black Friday'

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    CENTRAL VALLEY-Last year, 25,000 cars clogged the roads leading to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets on the day after Thanksgiving, or "Black Friday" as the official start of the holiday shopping season is more commonly called. On Saturday, there were more than 21,000, plus another 16,000 simply going southbound on Sunday. And the weather was lousy. "I can only imagine how much traffic there will be if the weather is clear and warm as it has been in recent days," Town of Woodbury Police Chief Robert J. Kwiatkowski said earlier this week. With the forecast calling for partly cloudy on Friday and Saturday, with daytime temperatures in the mid-40s, the chief expects the weekend to be "particularly hectic" with his department strained to its limit. But it won't be unprepared. The department issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging months of planning and coordination with other agencies, including state police, the Village of Harriman police, the Orange County Sheriff's Office and local merchants. Woodbury will be in charge of emergency services and keeping the roads clear for emergency vehicles, Kwiatkowski said, while state police will be responsible for controlling traffic on Route 32 as well as in Woodbury Common. In the past, the increased volume of traffic heading for Woodbury Common has caused a problem with the sequencing of the traffic lights along Route 32. "We have to achieve a good balance between all the traffic lights involved to get an even traffic flow," he said. "Last year, we had some problems with the light sequences." Busing people into Woodbury Common during the holiday shopping season alleviated some of the traffic issues last year, but also resulted in some others. "Last year, the buses were left idling for eight straight hours," Woodbury Supervisor Sheila Conroy said. "The residents complained about the air quality. This year, the Common has assured the town this would not happen again. "It better not," she added.