About a year ago, the darkness on Playland Parkway and Access Road began to be noticed by many Rye residents.
By Bill Lawyer
About a year ago, the darkness on Playland Parkway and Access Road began to be noticed by many Rye residents. At first most people, this writer and wife included, assumed that “somebody would take care of the problem.”
Certainly keeping the streetlights working would seem to be one of the basic governmental services on public roads. And in this case, it was ten non-working streetlights on the Playland Access Road, as well as numerous non-working lights on the Parkway starting at the Old Post Road overpass.
What was frustrating about the situation was that the streetlights were already in place, so all that was needed was to replace the bulbs or repair whatever electrical circuits might be malfunctioning.
As the winter went on and nothing was done about it, several residents contacted Rye City Public Works officials about the issue.
They were told that all the non-working lights were the responsibility of Westchester County.
To the people concerned about this problem, that explanation made sense. After all, they are actually called “Playland” roads, and they go from the County amusement park, along the Parkway, to where it connects with I-95 – a state highway.
At that point, a number of residents began contacting County-level officials who might be able to help with the problem, County Legislator Catherine Parker and Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett among them. They told the County officials why their concerns needed to be addressed: the Playland Access Road, which runs from Theodore Fremd Avenue to the Old Post Road, is heavily used. It includes four intersections – Theall Road, and the parking entrance driveway to WESTMED, as well as those at Theodore Fremd and the Old Post Road. WESTMED generates a great deal of traffic from early morning through 9 at night.
Theall Road serves as the access to The Osborn and Gabelli Funds, as well as several other office buildings. Plus, there is a lot of traffic going to and from I-95 to Playland Parkway via the Old Post Road.
One of the worst nighttime hazards occurs when drivers are trying to get onto Playland Parkway coming from Theodore Fremd via the Access Road – you can’t see the road divider until you start making the turn, at which point some drivers bump into the divider.
Residents and members of the Rye Fire Department focused on two main problems regarding the non-working lights on the Parkway itself. Professional firefighter Harold Aken explained that there is the lack of visibility regarding the height clearance for the two underpasses – which has resulted in trucks getting stuck under the one at Post Road. He also recounted that the poor visibility has resulted in accidents when people come off I-95, miss the exit onto the access road, and then do an illegal U-turn to go back the other way.
The second major safety problem is that deer frequently cross the Parkway from the Post Road overpass to Milton Road. At least half of all car-deer accidents in Rye occur on that stretch of road. One resident reported that he has been involved in four such collisions.
By last fall, Legislator Parker had sent and received various emails to/from the County Executive’s office. By her count there are at least 12 lights along the Parkway. She says that the official response was that they were “looking into it.”
On January 7, Mr. Plunkett said: “The lighting area that the County believes is under County jurisdiction has been addressed. The NY Thruway Authority and City of Rye are involved.”
On January 9, Legislator Parker located a County Planning Department map, updated in 2012, that shows both the access roads and Parkway are the responsibility of the County. (See the enlargement of the area in question.)
As of January 10, the lights were still out.
In her communications with the County Executive’s office, Legislator Parker has stressed that “even if it’s complicated to make a permanent fix to the problem, the County should install temporary lights at the crucial locations that are now dangerously dark.”