POUGHKEEPSIE – Central Hudson (CHG&E) is in the midst of a multi-year project to replace gas lines throughout the City of Poughkeepsie and a small business owner is fuming over the actions of the contractor.
Poughkeepsie Imported Car Parts on the South Avenue spur is situated on a cul-de-sac. On Thursday, CHG&E contractor J. Mullen and Sons placed cones across the top of the South Avenue entrance to the auto parts store and were prohibiting customers and delivery drivers from approaching the shop, according to one of the store’s owners, Brett Walsh.
An early sign warning of the roadwork was hung behind a tree on South Avenue, angled
towards the sidewalk, rendering it useless to motorists approaching the construction zone.
“On Thursday morning, the construction guys showed up and closed our road without warning,” said Walsh. “Our customers and delivery drivers were turned away by a flagman who was under a tree on the other side of the street, without a flag,” added Walsh. The owner says that the customers and drivers were told they had to park up the street and walk down to the store. Walsh asked the construction crew how long the road would be closed and was told “two days.”
By Friday, the contractor had turned the road into a material and equipment staging area
with almost no way to get to the shop, according to Walsh. The condition had not been cleared up by Monday, adding two additional days of disrupted business for the store. On Tuesday morning, the road was still closed and truckloads of stone were still piled on the pavement.
City Administrator Marc Nelson said that a permit to close the road had been granted but did not include using the roadway for material storage. By Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Rob Rolison had a meeting with CHG&E along with his DPW staff to prevent these disruptions going forward. “We’re going to do a better job,” said Rolison. “There’s going to be more road closures and more streets being disrupted because of the gas line replacement,” added the city leader.
Rolison said that the meeting resulted in several changes in city policy with regard to utility work. The city will now know well in advance when roads will be closed and the duration, so that a weekly list can be published on social media platforms and Mid-Hudson News. The city’s DPW safety officer will also inspect each of the job sites daily to ensure compliance with all required safety standards, including signage.
Rolison said the inspections are required because “Safety is first!” The mayor said that there has been an uptick in unsafe driving since things have started opening up, and that puts everyone at risk. “The construction crews, pedestrians, and other motorists are all at risk in construction zones and safety is a priority.”