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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

A DANGEROUS CURVE: Town of Delaware Supervisor Bill Moran points to the steep bank along one of Route 17B’s hazardous curves as Walter Roemer and DOT Resident Engineer Dennis Wilson (wearing hard hat) look on.

Route 17B Accident Garners Attention

By Rob Potter
HORTONVILLE — March 31, 2000 -- A one-car accident Sunday morning along a dangerous curve on Route 17B has led to renewed efforts to improve that stretch of road.
In that accident, Karen Gabriel of Cochecton lost control of her car on the curve, which is about one-and-half-miles east of Hortonville. Her 1994 Chevrolet hit the steel wire cables along the curve, struck two trees, fell 30-40 feet to the bottom of a steeply-sloped bank and came to rest in the Callicoon Creek.
Gabriel reportedly suffered only minor injuries in the incident, which totaled the vehicle.
On Wednesday afternoon, Walter Roemer, who lives about one-quarter mile away from the curve, joined Town of Delaware Supervisor Bill Moran, Assemblyman Jacob Gunther’s staff member Sean Hanofee, and DOT officials Craig Buchman and Dennis Wilson at the accident site. They talked about how the curve could be improved and how it was a miracle Gabriel was not injured more severely in the crash.
Wilson said he has been aware of that particular curve for years, but has not been able to convince the New York State Department of Transportation Regional Office in Binghamton how severe the problem is.
“They had a proposal to make improvements back in ’97 or ’98, but with the reduced budget of the past few years, it was pushed back to 2004,” said Wilson, who is the resident DOT engineer for Monticello. “There just doesn’t seem to be enough money in the budget for the needs of the region. But I keep the region office aware of this road. It’s a high priority for me.”
Hanofee noted that Assemblyman Gunther is also very concerned about that particular stretch of 17B. Gunther recently sent a letter explaining his hope to “formulate a plan to expedite a resolution” to Jack Williams, who is the acting regional director of the DOT office in Binghamton.
“Maybe they will be more aware of the situation, seeing as how we had a near tragedy here Sunday morning,” Moran said.
While viewing the site, Wilson and the others spoke of ways to improve the curve. One solution would be to replace the white metal posts connected by steel wire cables with the stronger, wider steel guardrails. Another possible solution would be to move the road further away from the steep bank so that it is closer to a turn-off spot currently along the other side of the road.
Of course, either of those ideas – or any other proposals – would need formal DOT approval and a substanial amount of labor, money and time to be completed.
Roemer and his son-in-law, Jeff Sattler, who is a corporal with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, were among the first ones on the scene of Sunday’s accident. They alerted the Sheriff’s Department, Callicoon and Hortonville Fire Departments and the Upper Delaware Ambulance Corps.
And while he’s happy the situation turned out as well as it did, Roemer, who has lived along Route 17B for several decades and has seen other accidents near the same curve, wants to see action taken to prevent any future mishaps. He is hoping to organize another meeting – with more officials and area residents in attendance – in the next few weeks.

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