Westchester Legislator Shimsky Thanks Officials for Road Safety Improvement Efforts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Westchester Legislator Shimsky Thanks Officials

For Road Safety Improvement Efforts

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY – Westchester Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) expressed her thanks to state and local officials today at a press conference here for their involvement in getting necessary state legislation passed and keeping an important road safety project moving forward.

Last week, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed Bills authorizing Westchester County to convey approximately six-tenths of an acre of parkland on the north border of Sprain Ridge Park to the Town of Greenburgh for the purpose of making needed safety improvements to the section of Jackson Avenue from the Park entrance to the intersection with North Sprain Road.

In exchange, Westchester County is receiving 1.3 acres of land in the East Irvington section of Greenburgh for use as parkland.

“State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti were instrumental and directly responsible for getting this legislation introduced and passed in Albany, and they deserve our thanks,” said Shimsky, who noted that the state legislation is the culmination of nine years of effort by the Town of Greenburgh, the Villages of Ardsley and Hastings-on-Hudson, and citizens groups to cope with increased traffic anticipated by the Ridge Hill development in Yonkers.

Before Ridge Hill’s approval, Jackson Avenue was already dealing with far more traffic than its design permitted, resulting in dozens of vehicular accidents. Traffic engineers had predicted large increases in traffic once the development was built. Sure enough, numerous accidents have occurred at this Jackson Avenue intersection in the past few years, including two reported fatal crashes.

Forest City Ratner, the Ridge Hill developer, provided the funding for the road safety improvements under the terms of a settlement ending a lawsuit brought by the Town and Villages challenging the City of Yonkers’ environmental review of the project.

“I was pleased to sponsor this bill and ensure its passage in the New York State Senate,” said State Senator Stewart-Cousins, who is also the Democratic Conference Leader. “With over eighty accidents and two deaths reported at Jackson Avenue and North Sprain Road in the last three years, it is clear that something must be done to protect residents and motorists. This is not just a matter of improving Jackson Avenue, it is a matter of public safety, and I was happy to play a role in moving the project forward. I’d like to especially recognize County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky for her leadership and initiative in this effort.”

“Many of us who regularly travel on Jackson Avenue have been working for traffic safety since 2004, when the Ridge Hill plans were first made public,” said Legislator Shimsky. “The succession of roadblocks in our way, and the years of hard work needed to overcome them—the lobbying, the litigation, the protracted negotiations with Westchester County—still make me shake my head. But the completion, and passage, of the parkland legislation removes the largest obstacle in our path. I feel confident that a safer Jackson Avenue is in our future.”

The safety improvements include the conversion of the “Y” intersection with three stop signs at the intersection of North Sprain Road and Jackson Avenue, to a traditional “T” intersection with a traffic light. Safety standards required, as a prerequisite to that reconfiguration, the straightening of the “S” curve from the Sprain Ridge Park entrance to the intersection, in order to improve the sight distance to the traffic light. The straightening, in turn, required the use of land outside Jackson Avenue’s right of way. St. Andrew’s golf club, which borders the northern side of the road, and Sprain Ridge Park on the south, both agreed to turn over small parcels of land for the improvements.

State legislation was needed, because the traffic improvements require the use of dedicated parkland, which may be de-dedicated only through a change in State law. Passage of the law was critical this year, as the funding for the improvements is scheduled to revert back to the developer in early 2016. The remaining environmental review, design and construction are likely to consume all of the remaining time. As required by State legislative counsel, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) approved a home rule message voicing approval of the State legislation at a special meeting on June 11. The Town of Greenburgh passed a similar home rule message earlier in June.

“We have tolerated accidents and flooding along this section of Jackson Avenue for far too long,” said Assemblyman Abinanti. “I am pleased to be part of the effort to straighten things out.”

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Bazzo 06/27/13

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