Governor Visits Orange County to Tout Completion of $150M Exit 131 Project

Real Estate In-Depth | November 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the completion of the $150-million “Woodbury Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub” on and around Route 17’s Exit 131 at an event staged at the Falkirk Country Club in Central Valley.

CENTRAL VALLEY—New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Nov. 14 the completion of the $150-million design-build project at the Woodbury Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub in Orange County five years ahead of schedule and in time for the holiday shopping season.

The Hub provides improved access to businesses and shopping destinations at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, new park-and-ride capacity and enhanced pedestrian and public transit facilities. The project, undertaken by Yonkers Contracting Company Inc., also enhanced safety, mobility and traffic patterns at the interchange adjacent to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, while also strengthening the local economy and boosting the region’s booming tourism business.

“This world-class transportation hub will provide much needed relief to Hudson Valley residents who have long endured traffic headaches caused by the interchange at Woodbury Common, and it will promote the continued growth of the region’s economy,” Gov. Cuomo said at the press event held at the Falkirk Country Club in Central Valley. “Completed five years ahead of schedule, this project is another example of how New York State leads the way when it comes to creating a 21st Century transportation infrastructure that moves our economy forward and improves quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

The project reconfigured the Exit 131 interchange between State Route 17 and State Route 32 to improve traffic flow, replaced the Route 32 bridge over Route 17 and reconstructed the ramps accessing the New York State Thruway (Interstate 87). The commuter parking lot was added and an existing one was reconstructed to provide motorists with more than 200 new spaces for their cars. Solar-powered bus shelters and lighting were also among the enhancements that will ease travel, improve access to the region and allow for increased commercial activity.

As part of the project, a new Monroe-Woodbury High School Access Drive was constructed expressly for local school bus traffic, connecting the high school with the elementary school and allowing school buses to more safely access many of their routes without ever having to access Nininger Road and Route 32.

Another component of the project was the implementation of cashless tolling at the Thruway’s Harriman Toll Barrier, which was accomplished in September 2018. Currently, all northbound traffic seeking to access Woodbury Common and NY Route 17 exit the Thruway and travel under cashless tolling gantries, easing congestion for approximately 21 million vehicles per year. Southbound traffic from the Thruway’s ticketed portion of the system will continue to access a modified two-lane toll plaza until the entire Thruway system is converted to cashless tolling by the end of 2020.

In addition to cashless tolling, the Thruway Authority also led a project to install more than 2,000 solar panels at the Exit 16 (Harriman – Rte. 17) Right of Way (ROW). The renewable energy produced by the Woodbury solar installation will offset close to 90% of the electricity currently used by Thruway Authority facilities at Harriman, Woodbury, Spring Valley and Nyack. Construction of the project was completed this month by CIR Electrical Construction Corporation at no cost to the Thruway Authority.

Major components of the new $150-million Road, Transit and Economic Development Hub includes:

The project improves traffic in Southern Orange County, which will benefit LEGOLAND New York, which will open for business this spring less than 10 miles up Route 17 in Goshen.

Diverging Diamond Interchange: Route 17 at Route 32 (Exit 131) was reconfigured into a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), which will simplify navigation for motorists and reduce crashes in the corridor. During the design-build procurement process, innovative proposals were sought from the industry. The DDI model was selected as the best value alternative during the process because it was the most innovative proposal put forth. It will allow traffic to freely make left and right hand turns with no opposing traffic, greatly increasing the efficiency of the corridor to handle traffic. It will also ease access to the New York State Thruway and Route 17. The DDI eliminates 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.

Traffic signals in the DDI control thru traffic and will provide significantly longer access to green lights. New adaptive signal control technology has been incorporated to monitor the traffic and change the timing of the lights during peak and non-peak traffic times.

New Route 32 Bridge Over Route 17: New twin bridges on Route 32 over Route 17 were constructed at the same elevation to minimize the impact on the traveling public. As part of this project, Route 17 was lowered approximately four feet to meet Interstate clearance standards at the new bridges. The new height is 16.5 feet. The project was also designed to include a potential third lane in each direction along the Route 17 corridor to accommodate future traffic growth.

Nininger Road Extension: Nininger Road provides a vital link for traffic from Route 32 to the communities of Kiryas Joel and the Village of Monroe. This project separated local traffic from visitor traffic, creating a new bridge that includes 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. Full-service access to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets area was maintained and a new parking lot to access local athletic fields was added.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Access Corridor: The project provided 4,000 feet of new concrete sidewalks. Sidewalks were constructed along the westerly side of Route 32 beginning near Bond Street approximately one-half mile north of the Central Valley Elementary School and proceeding to the southerly most project limit on Route 32 approximately 800 feet south of the Route 6 overpass. Additionally, sidewalks were added along Route 32 and Nininger Road, connecting the school’s new athletic field parking lot to Central Valley Elementary School. New sidewalks were also provided from the Central Valley Elementary school to Route 32, providing a connection into the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet mall sidewalk network.

Woodbury Common Premium Outlets Access: This project constructed a new south entrance/exit to and from Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. This entrance/exit improves access to the mall “ring road” and the parking garage. Local traffic can access this new entrance/exit through the new underpass under Route 32. Also, visitor traffic on Route 32 and Route 17 can access the new entrance through the newly constructed roundabouts.

Monroe-Woodbury School District Roadway: A new Monroe-Woodbury High School Drive Extension was constructed expressly for school bus traffic, connecting the high school with the elementary school. Reconfigured parking areas allow school buses to access many of their routes without ever having to access Nininger Road and Route 32. This will increase safety, decrease trip times, and provide additional emergency access to the school campus. The connector road also minimized the need for the traffic signal along the Route 32 corridor at the southern entrance to the elementary school, which will increase mobility on the corridor.

Route 32 Park and Ride and Bus Shelter: A new, 200 space park and ride lot was constructed with a parking management system capable of monitoring and displaying the number of available parking spaces. It also includes four electric car charging station stalls, and a green bus shelter utilizing solar power and high efficiency lighting.

In July 2019, Governor Cuomo announced that the project would include the complete reconstruction and expansion of an existing park and ride lot between Maher Lane and State Route 17. The redesigned lot was resurfaced and will now give commuters a larger, easier-to-navigate place to park their cars. The park and ride lot increased capacity from 208 spaces to 221 spaces.

A new, 385-square-foot shelter with a solar-powered canopy will accommodate up to 75 people. The new shelter will replace two smaller shelters that had a total capacity of only 15 people.

Route 32 and Route 17 Corridor Improvements: Every day, Route 32 serves approximately 20,000 vehicles, while Route 17 serves approximately 51,000 vehicles. The project lowered the profile of Route 17 to meet vertical clearance Interstate standards while also providing sufficient clearance for the new Route 32 bridge over Route 17. In addition, the Route 6 over Route 17 bridge was rehabilitated with new bearings and a new bridge deck, while also providing sufficient clearance overhead. Utilities were moved underground and a new storm water drainage system was constructed.

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said of the project’s completion, “I thank the governor and our state officials for addressing this important regional infrastructure issue. The completion of the Woodbury Transit Hub allows us to continue to market this economically vital corridor for growth as we prepare for the much-anticipated opening of LEGOLAND (in Goshen) next year.”