The Putnam Examiner

Concern Surrounds Future of Little Fill’s Causeway in Kent

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As “Little Fill’s Causeway” on Nichols Street continues to deteriorate, Town of Kent officials are exploring options to repair the road before it reaches a point where it might be closed off to traffic.

Collaborating with town, Putnam County, New York State, and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection officials, Kent councilman Bill Huestis is pressing to find a solution that would improve drainage, guardrails, retention ponds, and the actual road surface on the causeway off Route 52.

Last Thursday, Huestis was out on the causeway explaining the various issues and his concern for public safety.

“This has always been a concern,” Huestis said. “The condition needs to be improved, it needs to be upgraded. This road, this causeway, is a life link and a lifeline to hundreds of families.”

Huestis also noted the causeway is a shortcut to central and western Kent, which is used by first responders in case of an emergency, noting the “response time would be cut back significantly” if the road closed.

Additionally, thousands of Putnam residents use the road for various activities at the county’s Veteran’s Park throughout the year that include Loyalty Day, Irish Fest, and the 4-H Fair.

So far, Huestis said the town has sent

letters to all the stakeholders involved in hopes of getting their advocacy and possible financial contribution to address the problem the right way.

Plan A, which Huestis considers massive repairs to the road would cost approximately $1.6 million. The Town of Kent, Huestis stressed, can’t afford to pay for the possible project alone.

“If it can’t be done the Cadillac way, we’ll go for the Chevy way to ensure safety,” Huestis said.

Kent Highway Superintendent Richard Othmer said while most county roads are at least 40 feet wide, the causeway is only 16 feet wide. His fear is an accident occurring where a driver would slide off the road, especially in icy conditions, and fall into the reservoir.

Othmer has the ability to close the road without town board approval, but he wants to find an actual solution before it reaches that point. He has had a county engineer inspect the road and also a private contractor check it out.

One way Othmer can make the road safer is by adjusting the guardrails to straighten them out and move them in so the road is 12 feet wide. Othmer could then make the causeway a one-way road or have alternating stoplights on both sides of the causeway.

“Those would be cheaper solutions,” Othmer said. “Everyone uses it as a shortcut, but two vehicles can’t pass each other comfortably.”

A full report will be ready by a February town board meeting, Othmer said.

Othmer plans to put signage up on the causeway, with the help of Putnam’s

Highway Superintendent Fred Pena and the state Department of Transportation.

“It could be a nightmare,” Othmer said. “I’m putting the town board, I’m putting everyone on notice right now.”

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