Briarcliff Mayor Steven Vescio convened a group of local and state officials, local first responders and residents to call attention to the deplorable conditions on Route 9A in Briarcliff Manor and Ossining. The event, held in a parking lot just off 9A where the broken guardrail and hazardous conditions on a roadway that handles over 40,000 vehicles daily, could be seen 50 feet behind the speakers, was a strong call-to-action by the local and state officials for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to fix a problem that has existed for many years.
“This is a critical issue not only for Briarcliff but for Ossining and all residents and commuters who travel through this incredibly dangerous corridor,” noted Vescio. “The time for action is now. Clearly the Department of Transportation needs to undertake a comprehensive study and develop a plan that addresses the unacceptably high-level of accidents as well as the daily traffic back-ups, dangerous pedestrian crossings, and enormous strains on our police, fire and emergency responders.”
Vescio pointed out the importance of the Route 9A corridor but also how the roadway was not originally built to handle the amount of traffic it now handles. Completed in 1932, many of the original features still exist today. This includes a bridge at Pleasantville Road that is not high enough to allow many trucks to pass underneath it and on- and off-ramps that do not meet current guidelines for safe access on to a roadway.
Another unique aspect of the Briarcliff and Ossining Route 9A corridor are the three traffic lights within 2 miles which causes daily back-ups throughout Briarcliff and Ossining. “There should not be lights on a road that has this much traffic,” stated Vescio. “The result is delays, poor air quality and unsafe conditions for everyone commuting there. The lights should be eliminated and an overpass created at North State Road.” Vescio also noted the benefit of an overpass that would connect Briarcliff’s downtown business district and make it safer for people in the area to shop in Briarcliff and travel through the area.
Vescio ticked off what he’d liked to see from the state DOT. “In the near term, I’d like to see the broken guardrail fixed,” said Vescio alluding to an issue he alerted the DOT to by letter four months ago. Vesio is also asking the DOT to adjust the timing on the three traffic lights in the area to help alleviate some of the traffic. In addition, Vescio would like to see drainage structures and potholes repaired. But most importantly, Vescio would like to see the state commence corridor and environmental studies that will eventually lead to a complete redesign and construction of the section of 9A in Briarcliff and Ossining.
The heads of both the Briarcliff Fire and Police Department spoke to the stain on their resources caused by the unsafe conditions. Police Chief Donald Gorey that in just the past three years, there have been 630 accidents on 9A in Briarcliff and Ossining. Fire Chief Michael King added how the soft shoulders, short access ramp, low overhangs and the guardrails are major concerns for his department.
Also attending the event was Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity, who emphasized that local governments don’t have the authority or funding to do necessary repairs on state roadways but that it is their responsibility to communicate the issues back to the state DOT. Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg added that as local officials they understand what is happening on the state roads in their local communities and regularly communicate with the DOT. “It is extremely frustrating that we aren’t able to get the attention that we need to what may have been a sleepy little artery at one point when it was built in 1930 but is no longer so,” noted Levenberg.
Representing the state was Senator David Carlucci who thanked the local officials and first responders for their efforts. He stressed the importance of speaking in one, unified voice and telling the DOT, “we demand action and we demand it now.” He added, ““Over 40,000 commuters take 9A daily, and I am committed to making sure 9A is safe for all our drivers. I stand with Mayor Vescio in demanding this safety study be completed immediately by the NYSDOT. It’s unacceptable that they are dragging their feet on a matter of roadway safety.”