Monday, July 15, 2013

Traffic looms over Woodbury Common Premium Outlet plan

Interior drawing of the New Market Hall at Woodbury Common Premium Outlet
BY JOSHUA ROSENAU PUBLISHED JUL 11, 2013 AT 2:32 PM (UPDATED JUL 11, 2013) The Photo News

Road projects delayed as mall begins $170 million renovation

CENTRAL VALLEY — A $170 million renovation plan at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet aims to please the high-end demands of shoppers by 2016, but finding an easy route to and from the popular mall may take several years longer.

Town Supervisor John Burke said he is frustrated at the prospect of residents wasting more of their time in traffic as the destination attempts to attract more shoppers to Woodbury.

"Some people have to deal with it when they go shopping, when they come up 17 or the Thruway," Burke said. "We deal with it everyday. I am annoyed. I make no bones about it."

Retail space will expand by 60,000 square feet, growing the number of stores from 220 to 240 within the mall’s 900,000 square-foot campus, according to the plan.

"This expansion and enhancement will enable us to improve the shopper experience for our visitors and create additional space to accommodate the significant retailer demand that exists for this world-class shopping venue," said John R. Klein, President of Simon's Premium Outlets, the mall's owner.

Burke acknowledged that the outlet development has brought benefits and challenges alike to Woodbury.

"It certainly provides jobs and they pay their fair share of taxes. We can't deny that," Burke said. "But it has created enormous environmental issues and put tremendous stress on our commuters."

Managing traffic for the roughly 13 million visitors a year is a major concern at the mall for retailers, consumers and the Village of Woodbury.

Planners expressed particular concern over traffic at the southern leg of Woodbury Outlets Boulevard and mall’s interior roadway, Ring Road. The location “is expected to experience more than 1,500 vehicles an hour during typical peak periods,” according to planning documents.

The town recommended the mall’s management continue to hire state troopers to direct traffic during peak periods and holidays.

A three-storey parking garage is also being constructed to absorb some 2,000 cars, but village planners said there was a possibility the stacked structure of the deck could lead to long delays.

“With over 1,500 spaces on the upper three levels of the parking garage this may create a significant bottleneck within the circulation of the first floor of the garage,” according to planning board documents.

As volumes of motorists to the mall are projected to grow a quarter of a percent each year, planners hope a new two-stage plan to build looping ramps off of Exit 131 of Route 17 will allow traffic to flow more smoothly, according to site traffic studies.

The state Department of Transportation plans to begin a the first phase of roadway renovations sometime after the mall’s renovation has ended in 2016.

The first phase of the construction would raise and widen the Route 32 bridge that extends over Route 17 and erect a long loop to ease travelers exit to the east and west (See photos).

Construction of the loop could begin sometime in 2017, Burke said.

The second phase, involving two looping exits directly from Woodbury Common, is expected to have a significant effect on easing over-crowding at the mall, and “will allow approximately 15-20 percent of the traffic exiting the site to leave without having to first exit onto Route 32,” according to planning board documents.

Work on the second roadway may be completed as late as winter of 2022.

"We thought we had a solution for the interchange down on Exit 131. We did. We basically had it done,”
Burke said. “DOT signed off, local business signed off, we were ready to go, Then we got the news that instead of starting in 2013 with the preliminary stuff, we’re now looking at 2017. And no guarantee of that either.”

Even with the changes, Burke warned that the Thruway interchange at Harriman has become a highly trafficked roadway for all kinds of travelers, which will continue to be congested if nothing is done.

"People want to go to West Point, the Cheese Fest, watch the leaves, go to the mountains, the Catskills, the Common - its all going through that small segment of road," he said. "It's a huge job."


Simon Property Group Announces Major Expansion And Enhancement Of Woodbury Common Premium Outlets®

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