CORTLANDT, N.Y. – The New York State Department of Transportation could install a median barrier and turn lanes on the Bear Mountain Parkway by as soon as fall 2013, calling the measures "critical safety improvements," to prevent head-on crossover collisions on the highway.
“Safety is a top priority for NYSDOT and after hearing community concerns about the Bear Mountain Parkway, we are taking quick action to implement engineering solutions that will help slow traffic down,” said state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald.
The move came after months of lobbying by residents and politicians, following a spate of deaths on the high-speed, winding highway.
“I am very pleased that the New York State DOT has responded to our petition and letters to improve the safety on the state road," said Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi, who had been one of the department's harshest critics during lobbying efforts. "There have been many accidents and unfortunately some fatalities on this corridor over the years. I am very hopeful that these improvements will make the Bear Mountain Parkway safer."
The department's proposed project would run from Highland Avenue in Peekskill to Route 35/202 in Cortlandt. The highlight of the project would be a median rail between Division Street in Peekskill and Locust Avenue in Cortlandt.
Other safety improvements proposed by the department are left turn lanes and a new traffic signal at Frost Lane and Carhart Avenue. Pedestrian signal indications and a sidewalk also would be installed on Carhart Avenue. Left turn lanes will be provided at Bear Mountain Lane, Locust Avenue, Brookside Avenue and Arlo Lane.
An auxiliary lane to accommodate traffic climbing the hill eastbound from Division Street would continue 1,200 feet beyond the intersection with Frost Lane and Carhart Avenue.
Until the economic downturn of 2008, the Bear Mountain Parkway was set to receive a $60 million makeover in 2012, which would have installed a median barrier the length of the "extension."
The Transportation Department revealed the project would be pushed back to 2017 following a deadly December 2011 head-on collision that spurred debate on the safety of the roadway. It's unclear what the cost of the DOT's latest safety proposals will be, and if they are a scaled-back version of the original project. The Cortlandt Daily Voice submitted questions and was referred to a press release.
Two public input meetings are scheduled in Peekskill and Cortlandt. A 6:30 p.m., Feb. 27 public meeting in Peekskill has yet to have a location determined. At the same time the following night, a public meeting will take place at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady St., Cortlandt.