Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Congestion on RT. 59: Wal-Mart Watch

As we have been commenting, the proposal to build a 216,000 sq. ft. Wal-Mart in Monsey is going to complicate the severe traffic conditions that already exist on the Rt. 59 corridor. What has also concerned us is the ad hoc manner in which planning is done in Rockland County. Since all projects are the responsibility of each town and village it becomes impossible to plan comprehensively for the region.

This complicated planning mess is illustrated by a story in Sunday's Rockland Journal News. It seems that the town of Airmont, right on the Ramapo border and just a short run up from the site of the proposed Wal-Mart, is poised to approve another strip mall on the corner of 59 and Airmont Road. According to the paper, citing county and state figures, "Nearly 30,000 vehicles approach the intersection daily on North Airmont Road, and 18,200 travel between the corner and downtown Suffern..."

All of which demonstrates just how problematic it is to plan. In essence each separate jurisdiction looks at a project in a vacuum without any real consideration for its impact on surrounding communities. In addition, most environmental reviews are narrowly focused, never deviating away from a relatively narrow radius around a proposed development.

The final scoping session for the Wal-Mart in Monsey is on June 13th. Early indications are that the Ramapo officials are aware of some of our concerns and those raised by Brian Ketcham, the Alliance's traffic consultant. In the weeks and months ahead we will be reaching out to the local communities to make them fully aware of the myriad problems created by a Walmonster.