Action needed now to stop Rt. 59 closures

On Thursday, January 11, Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann—along with Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Senator Bill Weber and Congressman Mike Lawler’s office—hosted a press conference on Route 59 in West Nyack at the site of continued unprecedented flooding and road closures. The officials demanded state and federal action to re- mediate the issues that have been causing the constant closures of Route 59 after nearly every severe rain event.

“There’s 45,000 vehicles that go up and down Route 59 (every day),” said Supervisor Hoehmann. “Route 303 has approximately 25,000 vehicles that utilize that roadway. It’s completely unacceptable to have this road shut eight times in the last year. It has been shut 16 times in the last three years. Enough is enough. We need to have a comprehensive plan.”

Supervisor Hoehmann emphasized the side effects of the unprecedented amount of weather-related Route 59 closures: in addition to traffic congestion, the inability of emergency services to access businesses located along the flooded stretch of Route 59 have forced those stores to close early or not open at all due to safety concerns. In the event of these closures, Clarkstown Police also oversee roadblocks, leading to an overtime issue for the department.

While these officials called on the state to make the necessary changes to reduce the constant flooding of the area , they also proposed potential solutions, suggesting what Assemblyman Zebrowski called a “coordinated effort.” These solutions included dredging of the Hackensack Riverand reassessment of the amount of water that New York and New Jersey municipalities release into the river from the Lake DeForest reservoir.

Supervisor Hoehmann also called for the state to fix the culverts on Route 303, and implement a permanent solution to the overflow generated by the Hackensack River.. Clarkstown has previously cooperated with the federal government to alleviate flooding in West Nyack caused by the waterway, most recently in 2021.

As part of the Klein Ave Levee Improvement Project, the Town’s contractors raised the Western Highway bridge to a higher elevation to protect a neighborhood infamous for being literally swamped by overflow from the Hackensack river. The Levee improvement project raised the dam which protects Klein Avenue by three feet and also extend the barrier by four hundred feet: The project relied on a $ 4.7 million grant from the federal government.

“We don’t need a Band-Aid fix,” concluded Senator Weber. “We need a long-term solution. It’s going to take a multi-prong, multi-agency approach and collaboration between federal, state, local officials, having the state Department of Transportation quarterback it. But we’re going to need state funding. We’re going to need a collaboration among all agencies to make sure that this is done and it’s done right.”

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