Off and on for ten years, the community has been battling with the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to make safety improvements to the Route 9W/Oak Tree Road intersection and lower the speed limit to 35 mph from the NYS/NJ border past HNA. We have had meeting after meeting, which included DOT representatives, Assemblywoman Jaffee, NYew Senator Carlucci, county legislators, including Orangtown Supervisors (Kleiner, Whalen, Stewart and Day), Traffic Advisory, Police and Highway Departments and community representatives. At last April’s meeting, we learned that Jaffee had secured $650,000 for improvements and the DOT agreed to make our requested improvements to the intersection. The speed limit, however, was to be determined.

In late September, two new speed limit signs appeared on Route 9W. Coming down the hill from Lamont, the 45 mph signs were replaced with 40 mph signs and a brand new 45 mph sign was installed on the northeast corner of the intersection. This got our blood boiling. Not only did they ignore the years of documentation and begging for a lower speed limit in this congested, residential, cyclist and pedestrian dense corridor in front of the popular Market, but they installed a sign there reinforcing the 45 mph limit. We all know that cars flying through the light are traveling in excess of 45 mph. We sent a harsh letter to our representatives and, at the request of the community, Ellen Jaffee organized an emergency meeting with the DOT on November 2.

It was a lengthy, heated meeting with five DOT reps, Town reps, Jaffee and Carlucci. Regarding the intersection, Palisades is one of 38 projects in District 8 that require intersection/traffic light upgrades. DOT can’t bid individual jobs; they are bundled together. It is projected that the intersection improvements will occur in 2021.

As far as the speed limit, it is now 35 mph in New Jersey, 40 mph down the hill, 45 mph at the intersection (passing by the 9W Market) then 40 mph before the Sparkill viaduct. Four speed limits in two miles! We asked to continue New Jersey’s 35 mph down the hill and through Palisades and then begin 40 mph after HNA: two consistent speed limits. DOT said they needed to do a study (again) about lowering the 45 mph north of the intersection. Supervisor Day convinced them to shorten the time to a few weeks. After much arguing, back and forth, it appeared a 40 mph limit will be the lowest they will allow. We left visibly dissatisfied. It remains to be seen how soon they will change that 45 mph sign to 40 mph. Waiting until 2021 for intersection improvements is infuriating