Would guide rails have saved R’ville home? It’s too late to know

— Photo from Google 

This snapshot shows the former home of Antony Esposito before an SUV went off the road and into the house, in yellow, setting it on fire and destroying it.

RENSSELAERVILLE — Had everything gone according to plan, Anthony Esposito may still have the home his father left him. 

Around 1 a.m on Sunday, March 17, as Esposito was just about to fall asleep upstairs in that home along State Route 145, an SUV came off the road and into this house, ultimately setting it on fire. Everyone involved made it out without serious injury, but the house was a total loss. 

Esposito told The Enterprise after an initial Enterprise article on the accident that he had made several requests to the state for guide rails near his property, having already seen one car come onto the property 10 years ago. His father, who died nearly six years ago, had asked for guide rails too, he said.

“I made calls to the town but they said to call county as well as state,” Esposito, who lives primarily in New York City, told The Enterprise in a written message, after explaining that he had made requests of those agencies “repeatedly.” 

“That was ongoing for about 10 years,” he said. Describing the earlier accident, he said, “A woman fell asleep at the wheel and put herself in our ditch just past my barn.”

Esposito believes that, because his property lies at one end of a curve in the road, it was at greater risk for accidents like the two that have occurred.

However, the New York State Department of State, which has jurisdiction over the road, told The Enterprise this week that it had no record of any requests for guide rails from Esposito or anyone else on Route 145 in Preston Hollow. 

“My director of operations, who would be forwarded anything that had to do with a guide rail request, has no records either,” regional DOT spokesman Scott Cook told The Enterprise. 

Cook said that, when the department receives a request, “We’ll send somebody out to take a look and discuss it with the property owner.”

He said there are a number of things that the department considers when deciding whether a guide rail is necessary, two of them being a “steep slope or a fixed object close to the road.”

Esposito isn’t the only person in The Enterprise coverage area who has been concerned about how traffic interacts with a curve near his property. Berne resident George Duell said that he’s seen several accidents on the curve near his Helderberg Trail home, including a particularly dramatic one in 2019 where a truck towing an 8,000-pound boat jackknifed on a curve along Helderberg Trail, sending the boat flying. 

After his request for guide rails was declined, Duell installed his own, reinforced by 27 concrete blocks.

In 2022, The Enterprise wrote about another accident on that same curve, where an SUV wound up in the pond of another property owned by Melanie and Gunner laCour. The laCours said they had already lost a dog to a previous accident; they, too, had witnessed several crashes, as had relatives who lived on the property before them, they said. 

With officially installed guide rails out of the question, the laCours and Duell hoped they would be approved for a speed-limit reduction, but the DOT had already told former Berne Town Board member Joel Willsey that this would be ineffective, and possibly even more dangerous, after he had made his own request as a Berne official.

Guide rails were also sought — and initially declined by Albany County — on Bozenkill Road, after a woman spun off the road after hitting a patch of ice in 1993, suffering paralysis and loss of cognition. The county had argued that installation was too expensive. 

Less than a month out from the March 17 accident, Esposito said he’s still working things out with his insurance, and isn’t sure whether he’ll rebuild the home on that property or elsewhere in town. Nevertheless, he said he still wants the property protected from traffic since a barn that contains lots of family memorabilia remains there. Esposito said he will follow up with the DOT to get it done.

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