NEW WINDSOR — In less than 30 minutes Sunday morning, the town lost a century-old part of its history.
Much to the dismay of residents who want to preserve the town's past, the walls of 302 E. Main St. came tumbling down to make room for increased truck traffic.
Under a $3,260 contract with the state, John Baran bulldozed the house at Main Street and Route 75. Its location brought about its demise.
The State Highway Administration had purchased the house fromRichard M. Warehime for $110,000. Several traffic studies, the accident history of the intersection and the number of complaints left SHA with no choice but destruction, said Stephen N. Clarke Jr., state right of way agent.
"It was a spacious house, divided into two apartments," said Clarke. "We didn't want to tear it down."
Doris Pierce, chairwoman of the Rural Planning Committee for the New Windsor Citizens Action Project, said town residents were sad to lose a historic house. The stop-gap measure will prevent frequent accidents at the corner, she said.
"Trucks wiped out the telephone pole on that corner several times," she said. "It's a real Catch-22 dilemma. We live in a rural village where the narrow streets became state highways, without any planning."
Mayor James C. Carlisle said the next intersection down, Main Street at High, isn't much better. What the town really needs is a bypass, although one is not even "on the books," he added.
"It's like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm," said Councilwoman Rebecca H. Harman.
Pierce said some citizens think this measure will forestall any future bypass. Planners from George Washington University, who recently completed a traffic study of the area, agree.
"Short-term solutions might hamper future efforts to secure a bypass as well as invite more traffic," said Joshua Lott, who worked onthe study.
With the house gone, the state will flatten the curb and widen the intersection, making the turn easier to negotiate for the hundreds of trucks that use the road daily.
The George Washington University study said 500 trucks turn at the intersection from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday. The mayor said traffic jams result whenlarger trucks meet at the corner.
"They sit there looking at eachother waiting to see who will be the first to back up and let the other pass," he said.
The truck traffic made the home unlivable, said Warehime. The Warehime family lived in the 11-room house for 42 years before selling it to the state last August.
"We lived there allthose years and hated to see it go," said Warehime, who built a new home on Maple Avenue. "The trucks made things impossible, though."
Warehime said the route is the only access for the cement trucks traveling to Lehigh in neighboring Union Bridge.
He said 500 trucks during the day was no exaggeration. The noise from vehicles disturbed the family's sleep at all hours of the night and prevented anyone from spending a quiet afternoon on the side porch.
The dirt depositedon the house from the diesel trucks also contributed to his decisionto move.
"We had white aluminum siding installed," he said. "We could never get the truck dirt off it."
When the county's Master Plan for the town comes under review this spring, the council must stress the need for a bypass, Pierce said.
"We don't want to lose any more houses to accommodate trucks," she said.