Construction of a roundabout has begun on the approach to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. It’s a major undertaking for the state Department of Transportation and, though it’s premature to say conclusively, a major headache for motorists. But nobody expected the throbbing to start before the first shovel went into the ground.
Here’s the first sign of trouble: DOT is detouring trucks traveling north on Route 9G headed for the Rip Van Winkle Bridge through Hudson in a 9-mile turnaround. This will be tough on Hudson’s streets — but that’s not all. DOT failed to notify city officials about the truck detour. After raising the hackles of city departments from the police to the Department of Public Works, DOT sat down with city and state officials and the DOT committed to find a new detour route.
The anger expressed by city officials Tuesday is justified and understandable. They had no idea DOT was going to detour trucks 6 miles away through Hudson, which already has two congested state truck routes. We think DOT made a bad situation worse before construction even started.
Life over the next four or five months is going to be tough enough for motorists simply trying to get across the bridge. Passenger vehicles entering the intersection at Route 9G north will be forced — slingshot, some might say — to make a U-turn onto Route 23 north to cross the bridge. Now, the problem presents itself. There isn’t enough for trucks to make the U-turn.
By omitting the essential notification of city officials about the truck detour route, the DOT made a big mistake that suggests, rightly or wrongly, the department underestimated the scope of this project. Owning up to the error and working with Hudson officials to find a solution was the proper thing to do, but we don’t know what other details might have been overlooked. Safety of motorists is of the utmost priority when road patterns are going to be drastically altered. Truckers, travelers and Hudson officials can’t have any other surprises.