DOT skips Arkville signs

By Pauline Liu
What’s become of the Catskill Park highway guide signs for Arkville?  So far, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has no official answer.

The signs began appearing along other parts of Route 28 last spring. The new federally-compliant, white-on-brown highway signs are topped with what the DOT calls “a Catskill-theme sign panel” to enhance tourism, provide continuity as well as branding for the communities in the Catskill Park.
Arkville, however, appears to be an exception. The hamlet, with an estimated pre-flood population of 300, is located in the Catskill Park. While neighboring communities each have at least a few new guide signs in place, Arkville has none to call its own. Instead of enhancing Arkville’s tourism, the only two new guide signs installed in Arkville by the DOT, actually point motorists to Roxbury and Plattekill Mountain, which are not in the Catskill Park.

When asked why Arkville was not included in the sign program, a DOT worker who was installing a sign in the area last month gave a surly reply. “You know how to get to Arkville, don’t you?” he responded. The same question was posed to a DOT supervisor in Delhi last week, who admitted, “someone forgot.”

DOT Region 9 spokesman Dave Hamburg apologized for the rudeness of the DOT worker and explained that he is still checking to see if Arkville was included in the highway guide sign program.

“I’ve got e-mail and voicemail messages out,” he wrote in an e-mail. After three business days and one weekend, the DOT still has no official answer. The News also asked how much money is being spent on the sign program, since that information is not available in any of the DOT’s press releases.  That information has not been available either.

The DOT is the lead agency on the sign project. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are also participants.

According to Jennifer Post of DOT, the agencies took the initiative to try to “provide consistency” for highway signs in the Catskills, after noticing that the signs here “are an inconsistent mix of white-on-brown, yellow-on-brown and white-on-green panels.”

DEC Press Officer Lori Severino told the News that she will make sure the DEC staff is aware Arkville’s problem. With the first phase of the project almost completed, “way finding” signage to direct the public to DEC managed recreational facilities is scheduled to go up later this spring. There are no signs to direct visitors to several local DEC-run hiking trails in the Catskill Park, which are accessible from Dry Brook Road in Arkville. Since there is no signage on the way to trails, such as Balsam Lake, first-time visitors often complain of getting lost.

For now, signs for Arkville and Dry Brook Road remain white-on-green, but perhaps not for long. The DOT is looking into the matter. The agency did react quickly to correct the new Plattekill guide sign that was put in Arkville, after the News pointed out the problem last Friday.

The original sign, which has been up for weeks, depicted a skier defying gravity by skiing uphill.  Someone from the DOT took care of the embarrassing sign, by showing up early Monday morning and replacing it with a new sign of a downhill skier.