Rafters loading up their buses on Route 28 are often in harm's way, and a new parking area for the buses should help ensure that the exciting action stays on the water and off the roads.
The town of Indian Lake, the town of Johnsburg and the Department of Transportation will build the parking lot this fall to accommodate the many buses that park along the busy road to pick up rafters who take advantage of Abanakee Dam water releases for rafting.
Staff at Adventure Sports Rafting said that between the high-speed roadway and fleets of buses, it can be a turbulent spot.
“I think it's pretty dangerous,” said Office Manager Bonnie Clark. She's seen as many as 20 buses waiting to pick up river riders. “It's very chaotic when it's busy.”
Many buses mount their watercraft on the roof, so people must stand close to moving traffic while guiding boats into place, said Clark, a very dangerous place to be.
Adventure Sports River Manager Jake Mahoney said the biggest problem was the speed of traffic. Everybody is driving the state speed limit of 55 mph when buzzing by the buses, and some are really speeding along at what looks like 65 mph, said Mahoney.
When their trips begin, rafters launch from a quiet, unpaved road, said Mahoney. When they get to their finishing point on Route 28, they approach the road as if it were of the same sort that they'd launched from, he said. One person will cross the road, and everyone else will just fall in line and start following without making their own checks of traffic, worsening an already dangerous situation.
Indian Lake Town Supervisor Barry Hutchins said safety has been an issue for a long time. This initiative took a long time to reach fruition because the crossing from the river to the roadway includes private property and a railroad track. Crossing the i's and dotting the t's was a lengthy process.
Senator Betty Little helped the towns secure $30,000 in funding for the project.