The week ending October 24 has been dubbed Hudson Valley Climate Solutions Week. In this spirit, it is worth highlighting a solution that the region has dragged itself on: improving public transport.

Transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. We need to fix it by electrifying vehicles of all kinds, but it is not enough. We also need to build cities and neighborhoods where people can drive less, which means main streets within walking distance with usable public transport.

We have known this for a long time. In fact, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council identified better transit as an important solution in its 2013 regional sustainability plan. And yet, in Dutchess County, local buses stop running on Sundays, cutting off people of work, worship and the opportunity to go shopping or visit family and friends. Even the Beacon Free Loop idles on Sundays, although Main Street shops and major attractions are keeping their doors open.

Putnam County offers even less, with no regular bus service to destinations like the NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Office in Cold Spring or the stores and services along Route 9.

This lack of service makes it harder for Highland families to get by with just one car, let alone a car. It raises barriers to the economic mobility of people and to our ability to meet climate goals. Resolving this issue is well within the purview of county officials, given the number of state and federal funding programs available for transit improvements.

Steven Higashide, tag

The design of the Fjord Trail for the Breakneck connector section is fundamentally flawed. The current plan retains limited and unsafe parking along Highway 9D and adds three signposted crosswalks, which would result in traffic jams on busy days and present a continuing safety hazard year round.

The answer is to physically separate pedestrian and automobile traffic, not to add traffic calming measures to what is a primary transportation link.

The first priority is safety. This means that hikers must have a dedicated route that is off-road and off-trail. Since the trail can be traced on dirt above the rail tunnel, a bridge over the tracks is nice but not essential. However, there is no way to ensure a safe 9D crossing without a bridge due to the steep cliffs at the north end of the road tunnel.

The clear solution is for the bridge to cross over the road, not the tracks. Perhaps there could be another parking lot on the east side of 9D as well, as the demand for parking near the trailhead creates a considerable amount of desperate and dangerous parking behavior.

This is an important project: let’s avoid a costly and painful design error and consider all people who use the corridor, visitors and residents alike, as equal stakeholders. There are design solutions, but not as embodied in the current design proposal.

Stefan Kuzminski, Cold spring


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