ARMONK, N.Y. – The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is proposing major traffic and environmental changes to offset the closure of Kensico Dam Road in Valhalla, which has North Castle Planning Board Chairperson Robert Greene puzzled.
“This is a road that’s been closed for almost a decade and spending money on this project now seems to be a bit of mystery,” Greene said.
The DEP made an initial traffic improvement proposal to the planning board at its regular meeting Wednesday night. The project includes installing a traffic light at the intersection of Nannyhagen Road and Route 120, striping and lane changes at the intersection of North Broadway and Route 22, and an increase in pedestrian walkways in roadways around the Kensico Reservoir. Laura Csoboth, a representative with DEP, said the plan comes after an extensive traffic research study was conducted to determine the flow of traffic around the reservoir.
“DEP usually conducts these studies when they own roads,” Csoboth said. “This study was done on roads that are not owned by DEP because of the decision to close down Kensico Dam Road.”
Last week, the DEP reopened Kensico Dam Road for recreational use by pedestrians.
The DEP told Greene that the project was delayed due to the various jurisdictions over the roadways involved, which includes New York State, Westchester County as well as the towns of Mount Pleasant and North Castle.
In the proposed plan, the DEP estimates that the installation of a traffic light as well as a left-turn lane at the intersection of Nannyhagen and Route 120 alone will cost around $3 million to New York taxpayers and will also remove around 150 trees from the current location. Csoboth said that the tree removal is to install a watershed management system along the intersection. The traffic light will be semi-actuated and can detect when a car is waiting at the intersection by a magnetic system installed in the light. The DEP said this system will allow for ideal public safety while also managing traffic in an appropriate way.
Adam Kaufman, director of planning, said the traffic study conducted by DEP is up to par.
“There’s been an extensive study that’s been done and these changes are warranted in that study,” Kaufman said, who reviewed the official study results.
The DEP said that the estimated date to begin construction for this proposed project is during the summer of 2014. The North Castle Planning Board referred the DEP and their proposal to the town conservation board and requested that the DEP group return to the planning board at a later date to produce more extensive visuals of the potential project.