It is known as County Road 19 to some, but most Rhinebeck residents call it Slate Quarry Road.
The major east-west cut-through used frequently to get from Route 9G to the Taconic State Parkway has long been considered unsafe. On Sept. 8, the Rhinebeck Town Board approved a resolution requesting that the state Department of Transportation lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph along the town’s portion of the road.
“Slate Quarry Road in Rhinebeck has one of the highest accident rates in the county,” town supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said before the board approved the resolution unanimously.
Councilman Bruce Washburn agreed. “My son is an EMT. He goes there probably every week, multiple times. It’s the same spot, the same 50 to 100 yards,” he said.
The problems with the road are notorious.
Michael Trimble, chair of the town planning board and a resident on Slate Quarry Road, likes to use the term coined by local media outlets: the “Most Dangerous Mile in Dutchess County.”
“We’ve lived there for 39 years now and we met our neighbors because of all the accidents…Almost every time it rains now, there is an accident, and sometimes more than one,” Trimble told the Observer.
Trimble added that part of the problem is because of poor sight distance along sections of the road, and traction has also been a major problem. Repaving by the county has had varied success in limiting accidents, he said.
Experts agree that the number of people using the road has increased considerably in recent years, in part because it is the closest access road to the Taconic State Parkway from Rhinebeck.
Spinzia pointed out that the requested decrease in legal speed limit will not cover the entire stretch of road, only the Rhinebeck portion, from Route 9G to just west of Zipfeldburg Road. It becomes Bulls Head Road in the town of Clinton before it gets to the parkway.
The town’s resolution is one part of what Spinzia called a “three-step process” negotiated in June by town representatives, including Highway Superintendent Kathy Kinsella, as well as transportation department representatives from the county and state. In addition to changing the speed limit, the requested measures will include traffic calming signs and some resurfacing.