Bethlehem residents come out against bypass

A large contingent of Clapper Road residents responded with a resounding No to the proposed Selkirk bypass at a Tuesday, March 11, public hearing at Bethlehem Town Hall. However, most of the residents agreed that improvements to the town's existing stretch of Route 9W were needed.

At the hearing, engineers and the town planner presented findings of the Route 9W Corridor Study to the public and discussed options for making traffic flow easier on the busy thoroughfare and other improvement concepts. Increased truck traffic is also a concern for the roadway.

Suggested improvements to Route 9W included the possibility of several roundabouts; new traffic signals; adding a second northbound travel lane from Feura Bush Road to the Delmar Bypass, or installing a second travel lane in both directions; and installing a raised or flush center median along several different sections of the roadway.

The residents crowding Town Hall did not shy away from giving their input.

Several suggestions from residents included creating the town's open space plan before making a bypass plan; making sure money is in place from corporate sponsorship before construction begins instead of hoping that economic development occurs; and asking if a bypass was really necessary at all.

"Shouldn't the town make the open spaces plan before making a bypass plan?" one resident asked.

The town announced in February that it would appoint the Citizens Advisory Committee on Conservation (CACC) to help work on an open space plan, but several area farmers and large landowners have been critical of CACC because they say they are not properly represented in the advisory group.

At the next day's town board meeting on Wednesday, March 12, Supervisor Jack Cunningham said the town might create a subcommittee made up of farmers and landowners.

Several residents also expressed concerns that their opinions and comments were either not being documented or taken seriously by the town, and some asked where the money for the proposed improvements would come from.

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