Work to Start Soon on $150M Road Project by Woodbury Common
John Jordan | November 2017
HARRIMAN—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Orange County on Wednesday to announce the impending start of construction on the long-awaited Exit 131 project adjacent to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.
New York State officials announced that Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc. and subcontractor design firm HNTB were awarded the Design-Build contract. A spokesman for Yonkers Contracting, which is the general contractor on the project, put the value of the contract with the New York State Department of Transportation at approximately $150 million.
Montesano Brothers Inc. of New Rochelle won the bid for the conversion of the existing Harriman tolls to all-electronic tolling with the New York State Thruway Authority. Montesano bested five other bidders with a winning bid of $13.989 million. The project calls for the conversion of the Harriman Toll Barrier to cashless tolling for northbound traffic seeking to access Woodbury Common and Route 17, as well as traffic seeking to travel south on the Thruway. For southbound traffic from the Thruway’s ticketed portion of the system, two toll lanes would remain in place for motorists with E-ZPass or cash. The scheduled completion date is October 2018.
Work on the Exit 131 interchange improvement project coined by state officials as the “Woodbury Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub” will begin in January and take about two years to complete or on or about November 2019. The project will be built by union labor as the state agencies have signed a Project Labor Agreement with the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council.
Gov. Cuomo announced in January of this year that he planned to expedite the long-delayed project that will improve access in and around Woodbury Common as well as traffic on the New York State Thruway and Route 17. The project is critical since further north in Orange County, LEGOLAND New York will open in the spring of 2020 and Resorts World Catskills will open in mid-February of 2018 in Sullivan County. Both projects are expected to draw millions of new visitors each year to the region.
At his speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 363 facility in Harriman, Gov. Cuomo said that traffic on Route 17 by Woodbury Common has been a “nightmare.” The Woodbury Common Premium Outlets draws an estimated more than 13 million visitors a year. The popular shopping venue has drawn a significant amount of traffic to the area amounting to 32 million vehicle trips a year—20,000 vehicles on Route 32 and 50,000 on Route 17 each day.
“For too long, Hudson Valley residents have endured endless traffic headaches caused by the interchange at Woodbury Common, and now the state is taking action by developing a world-class transportation hub that will help alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow for residents and tourists alike,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The improvement project will involve a unique “Diverging Diamond Interchange,” the replacement of the Route 32 bridge with new twin bridges, building a new underpass under the Route 32 structure, the creation of a new lane in each direction on Route 32, the construction of a new access point to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, the construction of a new roadway connecting Monroe-Woodbury elementary schools and the high school located nearby, the development of a new 200-space park and ride lot, featuring a solar-reliant bus shelter, as well as a bicycle and pedestrian safety corridor.
State officials explained that the Diverging Diamond Interchange design would eliminate the need to cross traffic lanes while making left hand turns through a “crossover intersection” that will move traffic from the right side of the road to the left side of the road, then back again. Gov. Cuomo said that the diamond interchange design was implemented successfully on a road project in Monroe County in 2012.
New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, “This project is a win-win for residents and visitors alike, alleviating traffic while expanding the potential for growth in the Hudson Valley region. It truly exemplifies Governor Cuomo’s commitment to economic development through infrastructure, which will in turn help transform the region’s transportation network to further meet the needs of a 21st century economy.”
New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll added, “The conversion to cashless tolling at the Harriman Toll Barrier will improve safety and provide more efficient travel in the Mid-Hudson Valley. This project marks the third location along the Thruway where cashless tolling will be implemented and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his support and commitment to bringing this state-of-the-art technology to the Thruway system.”
Another critical component of the project will be improvements to Nininger Road that is located adjacent to Exit 131 and links traffic from Route 32 to the communities of Kiryas Joel and the Village of Monroe. The project will separate local traffic from visitor traffic, creating a new bridge that will include an underpass under Route 32 with roundabouts on each end, avoiding the need for a signalized intersection at Route 32 while minimizing the impact on local neighborhoods and businesses, state officials noted. Full-service access to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets area will continue and the project will also include a new parking lot to access local athletic fields.
In terms of improvements geared to the highly popular Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, a new south entrance/exit to and from Woodbury Common Premium Outlets will be built. The new entrance/exit will improve access to the mall “ring road” accessing the parking garage. Local traffic will be able to access this new entrance/exit through the new underpass under Route 32. Also, visitors’ traffic on Route 32 and Route 17 will be able to access this new entrance through the newly constructed roundabouts.
State Senator William J. Larkin said of the project, “Woodbury Common is critical to the economy and prosperity of the entire Hudson Valley. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this vital infrastructure project that will transform the area. For too long, our residents have endured terrible congestion around Woodbury Common, and this state-of-the-art hub will create jobs and support economic growth for future generations.”
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus added, “I want to thank Governor Cuomo and our state officials for their continued diligence in fighting for this critical infrastructure improvement. The Exit 131 project has lingered and been studied long enough. This construction will not only ease historic congestion issues, but will also allow us to continue to market this economically vital corridor for future planned growth and sustainable development.”