Department of Transportation Comes to Palisades

In January, after years of near misses and accidents ranging from fender benders to fatalities on Route 9W, Avi Barak, Carol Baxter, and Susan Nemesdy, along with dozens of concerned residents, engaged in a reinvigorated redress of grievances to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT).

Since January, the community convened meetings to confirm problem areas, researched documentation, snapped hundreds of photos including overhead images using Susan’s drone, tested speed with radar guns, contacted the press, gathered 500 petition signatures, researched lowering the speed limit, and made numerous appearances at Traffic Advisory and Town Board meetings.

On September 19 at the intersection of Oak Tree Road and Route 9W, Avi, Susan, and Carol met with three DOT members, Supervisor Andy Stewart, representatives from the Town Board, Highway Department, Police Department, Traffic Advisory Board, and Senator Carlucci’s office, Assembly member Jaffee, Rockland Legislator Low-Hogan, and others. While it was clear to the DOT that the intersection needs remediation, their solutions proved frustrating.

The DOT stated that poles and wires supporting the current traffic light are 40 years old and most likely will not support the weight of adding a “No Turn On Red” sign, let alone a new “Advanced Green, Left Turn Arrow” light. DOT suggested that it could take about two years to get the manpower and the funds for such a project. Moving the pedestrian push button poles is connected to the updating of the aforementioned poles. Susan learned that the lifespan of the poles is 40 to 50 years and the price is only from $1,500 to $3,000 each.

Narrowing the southwest shoulder with curbing near Jordan’s memorial seems feasible. The Town and State need to coordinate funding and installation. In the interim, the DOT is painting hatch lines in the southeast and southwest shoulders that people mistake for lanes. This should help prevent cars from passing on the right. A sidewalk on the east side of Route 9W from the intersection to the Market may be possible by securing grant money.

Lastly, reducing the speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph for the stretch from Lamont to the Sparkill viaduct generated the most head nods, but in fact is the biggest challenge.

Despite the fact that the speed limit in New Jersey approaching the border is 35 mph and there are two suggested 35 mph signs coming down the hill after Lamont, the DOT felt that the current 45 mph limit from the steep curving hill lined with swarms of cyclists, past the Palisades Swim Club, Bright Horizons Pre-School, through the intersection with two bus stops and past the busy Route 9W Market, is appropriate. They said that a study is in progress. Both the community and town representatives and even one member of the DOT countered with documentation, logic, and common sense in favor of reducing the speed.

Assembly member Jaffee will be scheduling a follow-up meeting with the DOT with the full support of Senator Carlucci and the Town. In the meantime… PLEASE drive carefully.