By Nathan Mayberg
LIBERTY July 5, 2005 Liberty residents should be in for quite the ride over the next year, as the New York State Department of Transportation and Sullivan County Paving and Construction Inc. of Cochecton conduct a massive, full-depth reconstruction of 1.2 miles of road from the bridge over Route 17 to Route 55 this year, and Main Street from the corner of Route 55 to Chestnut Street next year.
The large-scale plans are intended to alleviate structural problems with roads due to the old brick road which lies underneath the new paved one, and also to address drainage.
The long list of plans includes removing sidewalks, installing temporary ones, installing a new water main and other underground utilities. New street lighting, a municipal parking lot, sidewalks and curbs will also be constructed.
There will be two roundabouts built at the intersection of Route 52 and Route 55 and the intersection of South Main Street and Mill Street which also connects to Neversink Road.
Tom Miller, the project manager for the DOT, did not offer more specifics, except to say the median between the bridge over Route 17 and Route 55 will be replaced, and a left signal lane towards Clemens Road will replace one of the existing lanes.
Town of Liberty Councilman Sean Hanofee was excited about all of it.
This is the first redesign/reconfiguration by the DOT in any village [in the county] in several decades. This can only help tourism, economics, transportation and safety for the Liberty residents and the outsiders enjoying our village, he commented. Its a great concept. The roundabout . . . is a simple but effective method to reduce traffic congestion in two of the worst spots in the village.
But not everybody was happy. Michael Stoddard, owner of Cobblers on Main Street, represented a group of merchants in the area who were concerned about how all of the construction work would impact their businesses.
While he said he believed in progress, he asked project engineer Ed Mall to place signs along Route 17, instructing drivers to access Main Street through Exit 99 so as to avoid much of the current resurfacing. Stoddard said he was told by some people that they will avoid the village due to all of the work being done.
Other local business owners and property owners had questions on how the large-scale project would impact them.
Comments on the project can be sent to Jack Williams, Regional Director, New York State Department of Transportation, 44 Hawley Street, Binghamton, NY 12901-3200, Attention: Engineer in Charge Ed Mall.