Kent's Rte. 311 to get resurfaced

(Original Publication: February 25, 2005)

KENT — Route 311 in Kent is a patchwork of potholes, cracks and ruts. The surface provides drivers with an uncomfortable ride between Ludingtonville Road and Route 52.

"It is bone-jarring," said Linda Bugler of Carmel after pulling into the Lake Carmel General Store on a recent morning. "Smoother would be nicer."

To that end, the state plans to resurface the mile-long section this year, most likely when the weather begins to warm. Other plans include adding a turning lane nearby on Route 52.

The first project would see workers for the state Department of Transportation grinding down parts of Route 311. The road, including the causeway separating the north and south sections of Lake Carmel, would then be resurfaced with a single layer of blacktop and new pavement markings, such as lane lines, added. State DOT figures show an average of about 18,000 vehicles daily use Route 311 between Route 52 and Ludingtonville Road.

"I know it's coming, probably in the next couple of months," Town Supervisor William Tulipane said.

DOT Engineer Robert Griemmsman said the repaving work would probably start in the summer but couldn't provide a more definitive date. In a recent letter from the agency to the town, Lee Zimmer, another DOT engineer, said the town would be notified about the repaving "at least two weeks prior to beginning any construction."

The second undertaking involves adding a turning lane on Route 52 at Barrett Hill Road, a spot that sits in front of the old Lake Carmel firehouse. Turning off or onto the side road is a tricky maneuver, a product of the heavy traffic on the faster Route 52. The intersection of the two roads also sits in a dip between two hills, making it difficult for cars to sit safely on Route 52 and wait for an opportunity to turn.

"It's dangerous," Robert Saunders of Kent said. "I see close calls there almost everyday."

Route 52 is only one lane in each direction and about 14,000 vehicles on average use that stretch each day, according to figures from the state DOT. A 90-year-old Lake Carmel woman was fatally struck by a car in that area in 2001.

When the turning lane will be constructed, though, is still unknown. Griemmsman from the DOT said that project was part "of the long-range plan" but couldn't provide any additional information. Kent Councilwoman Kathy Doherty said she last heard the turning lane was scheduled for 2008. A report dated Feb. 4 from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a regional planning organization that makes decisions on the use of federal transportation funds, shows money for the work won't be in place until at least 2009.

Liz Allison, co-chairwoman of the Lake Carmel Park District Advisory Committee, speculated that maybe the state had been waiting for the Fire Department to vacate the old firehouse, which it did in 2003, because installing the turning lane requires taking some of that property. Tulipane said one hurdle to the work was the installation of new storm drains at the base of Barrett Hill Road. That task was completed last year.

"We had to get done so they could start and we're done," Tulipane said.


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Friday, February 25, 2005