Briarcliff Mayor’s Letter to NY State – Immediate Action Needed

Accident on NYS Route 9A at Pleasantville Road Bridge – 7-28-2022 (Photo supplied by Briarcliff Manor)

For the last two years, Briarcliff Manor Mayor Steve Vescio has been pressing the NY State Department of Transportation to address the serious and ongoing safety issues on the heavily trafficked and outmoded Route 9A in as it winds through Briarcliff and Ossining. Following two recent major accidents that could easily have resulted in multiple fatalities, today he renewed his call for immediate repairs to the damaged median barrier and guardrails along the 4-lane highway which opened in 1932.

In the attached letter the two latest crashes are described. Both occurred at the narrow and low-clearance Pleasantville Road underpass, the single most dangerous and outmoded obstacle on the four-mile stretch of 9A. He asks the DOT to repair the median barre on the highway as it passes under the overpass, noting it has been in the same damaged condition for six months.

This is an important public safety story. As the photos show, the accidents are serious, life-threatening and frequent. Mayor Vescio’s goal is to get the DOT to step up and at least make the minimum safety maintenance repairs now, as long-term solutions are pursued.August 19, 2022

Lance MacMillan, P.E. – Regional Director
NYS Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232

Reference: Dangerous Conditions & Ongoing Maintenance – NYS Route 9A – Village of Briarcliff Manor

Dear Mr. MacMillan,

Damaged section of Guide Rail under the Pleasantville Road Bridge – 3-4-2022 (Photo supplied by Briarcliff Manor)

On behalf of the residents of Briarcliff Manor, and the general traveling public, I implore the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) to immediately take action and remedy the ongoing maintenance issues on NYS Route 9A in Briarcliff Manor and Ossining. The daily hazards of traveling on this outdated roadway design remain a major issue and are exacerbated by the lack of DOT maintenance of the important safety features, specifically the center guide rail.

I realize that the maintenance continues to increase and is problematic, however a better effort must be made to provide the required maintenance of the outdated existing guide rails, warning signage and pavement maintenance to minimize additional hazards to the traveling public on Route 9A, until the permanent re-construction starts.

As you are aware I transmitted a notice letter along with photos of damaged guide rail under the Pleasantville Road bridge on March 7, 2022(see attached). As of today, this section or guide rail remains damaged, creating a potential safety hazard for the traveling public. The Pleasantville Road Bridge area is a very dangerous stretch of this parkway due to the lack of proper height clearance for commercial vehicles allowed on this roadway. This location has been the scene of many accidents, including a gasoline tanker fire in 2004 and even more close calls due to this deficiency. The oversized commercial vehicles are unable to make clearance in the right-hand lane and are forced to shift into the left lane to make it under the bridge without a strike. Additionally, the narrow lanes and lack of a shoulder ratchet up the risk factors of this treacherous situation.

I want to bring to your attention 2 recent accidents at the Pleasantville Road bridge that were a direct result of the deficient conditions at this location.

On July 20, 2022 at 12:45PM a three-vehicle accident was caused by a commercial vehicle making a last minute shift due to fear of not making the clearance under the bridge. One of the vehicles involved that sustained damage was a law enforcement vehicle.  The report accident description states:

“Vehicle #1 (2012 Freightliner Truck) was traveling north bound in the right lane of travel and switched lanes at the last second before the overpass to make sure they would fit underneath it. Vehicle #2 (2022 Ford – Law Enforcement) and Vehicle #3 (2018 Jeep) were both in the left lane of travel when Vehicle #1 moved into their lane. Vehicle #2 had no where to go and sustained damage to the rear passenger side panel, while Vehicle # 3 directly struck the rear of Vehicle #1.”

Just a mere 8 days later on July 28, 2022 at 8:33 AM at this same location there was yet another motor vehicle accident directly resulting from the insufficient bridge height. In this case 2 commercial vehicles were involved – a dump truck and a box truck (see photos attached). As a result the northbound roadway was closed for more than 3 hours. The accident report description states:

“The operator of Vehicle 1 (2019 Isuzu Box Truck) stated that he was driving in the right lane on 9A when he realized his truck was too high to go under the bridge in the right hand lane. The bridge clearance was 10’ 10” on that side. He stopped suddenly to attempt to switch to the left lane to proceed under the bridge and that is when he was hit in the rear by Vehicle 2 (2018 Kenworth Dump Truck). The operator of Vehicle 2 stated he was traveling in the right hand lane when he saw the truck make a sudden stop at the bridge and he attempted to stop the vehicle a distance back and veered into the guard rail to attempt to miss the truck but could not stop in time”

In the attached photos from the July 28, 2022 accident, you can see the same unrepaired guide rail photographed and noticed to NYS DOT in March of 2022. By sheer luck the box truck was pushed toward the bridge abutment wall rather than the center guide rail that was lying on the ground. Had the latter been the case and the box truck entered opposing south bound traffic the results of this incident could potentially have been fatal.

The lack of timely maintenance of critical safety features on this roadway by NYS DOT is completely unacceptable and poses an unnecessary safety hazard to the traveling public. We request that NYS DOT immediately repair this section of damaged guide rail as well as the several others that have remained damaged and unrepaired for excessive periods of time on Route 9A through Briarcliff and Ossining.

Furthermore, given the severe and ongoing safety hazards that currently exist on NYS Route 9A in Briarcliff and Ossining we request that the Corridor Study be expedited and that NYS DOT move to fast track the badly needed infrastructure upgrades on this roadway.

I remain available to discuss this matter and assist in any way necessary to effectuate these important maintenance issues.

Thank you in advance for your timely attention to this matter.

Sincerely Yours,

Steven Vescio
Mayor

 

Cc:    Marie Therese Dominguez – NYS DOT Commissioner

Janice McLachlan, Chief of Staff, NYSDOT

Kathy Hochul, NYS Governor

Charles Schumer, US Senate Majority Leader

Mondaire Jones, US Congressman

Sandy Galef, NYS Assemblywoman

Andrea Stewart-Cousins – NYS Senate Majority Leader

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, NYS Senator

Peter Harkham, NYS Senator

Timothy Kennedy, NYS Senator

George Latimer, Westchester County Executive

Ken Jenkins, Westchester County Deputy Executive

Catherine Borgia, Westchester County Legislator

Dana Levenberg, Supervisor, Town of Ossining

Rika Levin, Mayor, Village of Ossining

Residents & Business Owners of the Village of Briarcliff Manor

Board of Trustees Village of Briarcliff Manor

Josh Ringel, Briarcliff Manor Village Manager (file)

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