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The Berkshires

Town of Wallkill to get tunnel connecting malls

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Albany/HV: Town of Wallkill to get tunnel connecting malls
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A long awaited tunnel project to connect the Town of Wallkill's Galleria Mall with the Orange Plaza shopping area separated by Route 17 is getting a jump start. YNN's John Wagner has the details.

WALLKILL, N.Y. -- An area popular for shopping, but notorious for traffic tie-ups, has locals suffering from tunnel vision. An overpass was built three years ago, but instead of congestion relief, they have a tunnel to nowhere.

"The traffic out there on 211, all the stop lights you have to get through, forget about it," said Town of Wallkill resident Bill Needher. "It would cut your travel down by 15 minutes."

"It would alleviate a lot of tension on 211 and as we know, there's a lot of accidents happening all the time," said Jose Rodriguez, another town resident.

New York State agreed Tuesday to sponsor the mall connecting tunnel, by paying for the land and building the road. The Town of Wallkill must complete the final design and they will own and maintain the land once it opens.

"It's their dime, so it will be on their time, which is fine with me," said Town of Wallkill Supervisor Daniel Depew. "The savings to the Wallkill taxpayers is estimated anywhere between one and two million dollars."

Town Supervisor Daniel Depew says the project will get done faster this way than if the town tried to handle it, although no timeline has been set.

"I believe the state is going to put this on the top of their local pile. That's the commitment we've got from them," said Depew.

All those cars stuck idling at light after light on 211 mean more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Most of the project funds come from a federal grant meant to cut pollution and improve air quality.

"You're wasting a lot of gas on all the stop and go," said Rodriguez. "I mean it's great if everybody drove a Prius, but that's not the case."

"Anything that's going to help not just the air quality, but also the quality of life, it's all a good thing," said Goshen resident Esther Zaccone.

The federal government will fund 80 percent of project expenses, with the state chipping in the rest.

"It's a huge home run for Town of Wallkill taxpayers," continued Depew. "And the project, when it's done, will be great."

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