Op-Ed: What’s Up with Our Decaying and Hazardous Roads?

Truck barely clears Pleasantville Bridge overpass

by Lora Friedman and Ken Abbott

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions but it’s in better shape than the hellish roads in Westchester. New York State Route 9A and other roadways in the county have been neglected for decades. And they’re in worse condition than ever.

The highest-taxed county in New York State has a serious infrastructure problem. Route 9A is the poster child. Crater-size potholes and uneven patching by the New York State Department of Transportation every spring result in bent rims, blowouts and near-collisions caused by motorists swerving to avoid the potholes. And the patches don’t last. To add insult to injury, many center guardrails are broken and the roadsides strewn with trash.

When we called State Senator Pete Harckham’s office, we were told the senator was aware of the 9A problem but that it was not in the DOT’s 5-year capital plan. Why not? We never got an answer. That prompted us to post a petition on Change.org addressed to Governor Hochul and Senator Harckham, demanding that the DOT pave and repair a particularly hazardous section of 9A. More than 1,500 people have signed so far.

Here are some of the reasons people have given for signing:

  • “The road is terrible and will lead to accidents with cars trying to avoid large potholes…Constant patching won’t fix this and is ultimately more expensive.”
  • “The conditions of our roadways are a disgrace…I have visited 3rd world countries where their infrastructure is in better shape.”
  • “I drive this section of 9A frequently and it gets worse by the day. My car is being destroyed.”

When we reached out to Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg’s office, we were told repaving 9A would be too expensive. Which begs the questions:

  • Our taxes are supposed to pay for road maintenance. We pay the highest taxes in New York State. Where is all that tax revenue going?
  • The recent federal infrastructure bill allotted millions to New York State. Why aren’t some of these funds being used to repave the roads in Westchester?
  • Why has this deplorable state of affairs been allowed to continue unabated for decades?

Assemblywoman Levenberg recently met with the DOT director to discuss the situation. The public was not invited.

On March 7, we received an email from the DOT. It reads, in part:

“It is the mission of the NYSDOT to ensure those who live, work and travel in New York State have a safe, efficient, balanced and environmentally sound transportation system.”

Although Route 9A between Ossining and Pleasantville is not currently on the NYSDOT capital program, we will consider your concern as a future project and continue to monitor this roadway and conduct maintenance as needed.”

Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the same series of events repeats in an endless loop, the saga of 9A is a study in déjà vu. Last year, a petition focused on a dangerous stretch in Elmsford drew 2,400 signatures and got results. Why did it take a petition for the DOT to do its job?

Dubbing 9A “the road that time forgot,” we started fix9A.com. We plan to populate the website with drivers’ comments, petition counts, and progress reports.

Decaying roadways are a matter of public safety. It’s the job of our elected officials to find out why, year after year, Westchester drivers are forced to put up with sub-par roads—and to do something about it. We the People, who for pay for these roads and their upkeep, deserve better.

Lora Friedman and Ken Abbott are residents of Ossining.


  1. The Assemblywoman will respond to this directly at greater length, but I just wanted to share one of the recent public statements we’ve already put out that addresses many of the issues in this letter. Here is a link to our most recent monthly wrap-up, which includes a roads update: https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Dana-Levenberg/story/105175. I invite the letter writers and anyone else who wants to stay in the loop regarding our office’s work on this issue (and so many others) to sign up for our e-news using the following link, to get our messages directly in your inbox: https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Dana-Levenberg/enews/.

  2. I’m also very, very concerned about the roadways in and around Westchester County. With all the patch work, it’s very hard to find a smooth portion of a local street or highway anywhere. The conditions are damaging our vehicles. Whenever someone drives across state lines, NJ or CT you can tell due to the roads. In fact CT posts signs proudly ” WE PAVE ” WHAT UP WITH NEW YORK? Con Edison is digging all over the place and all they do for the most part is patch. By the time the local DPW’s and Con Edison are done it’s like walking around a mine field with clown shoes! We pay a lot of money for services not to have decent roads. All that patch work is paid through our tax dollars.

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