Red Hook’s traffic light getting a seconds look

The traffic light at the intersection of Route 9 and 199 in Red Hook has become a driver’s nightmare.

With a 20-second delay every time the pedestrian “WALK” button is pushed, drivers sit and wait for a red light that seems to never turn green. And even when it does, drivers at the end of a long queue may face a yellow light before they can get to the intersection Village officials are concerned that more local drivers are going out of their way to avoid the light, causing more congestion on side streets.

At its Aug. 21 workshop, the Red Hook village board discussed the problem and reviewed their options.

Their key focus was on the timing of the lights: with Deputy Mayor Brent Kovalchik wondering why the Red Hook light has a 20-second delay when the button is pushed, while the light at the main Rhinebeck intersection has only a 10-second delay.

Also discussed was the possibility of using the roadwork planned during phase 2 of the village’s water project to calm traffic by instituting bike lanes and pedestrian pathways.

According to Mayor Ed Blundell, 14,000 cars a day use the intersection.

“We have all complained to [state] DOT over the years, but it all boils down to the 4-way block,” Blundell said. “When the ‘walk’ button gets pushed, all four lanes stop.”

Kovalchik related information from the county’s “Bike Dutchess” plan, which suggested changing the signal to incorporate a standard pedestrian crossing, which would mean pedestrians cross with parallel traffic only.

Under that scenario, instead of traffic stopping in all four directions when the “WALK” button is pushed, for pedestrians wanting to cross Route 199, only the east-west facing traffic lights would turn red. Similarly, pedestrians wanting to cross Route 9 would push the button and only the north-south traffic lights will go red.

Kovalchik said he was told by state DOT officials that the village should write a letter with as much information on the problem as they can get. Blundell added that the board needs to pass a resolution to make any changes.

He suggested continuing the discussion at the board’s Sept. 8 meeting.

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