In January of 2013 the New York State Department of Transportation announced that a $224,952 grant had been awarded to the City of Rye to support Safe Routes To School projects.
By Bill Lawyer
In January of 2013 the New York State Department of Transportation announced that a $224,952 grant had been awarded to the City of Rye to support Safe Routes To School projects. Rye YMCA staff members Lisa Urban and Denise Woodin wrote the grant, with help from the City Planning and Engineering departments and the Traffic and Safety Committee and Safe Routes to School committees.
As school has started, and none of the project construction work has begun, The Rye Record asked if there had been any “behind-the-scenes” progress.
“We’re hoping that work will start soon,” said Lisa Urban. “This grant was for important improvements that should make walking safer for everyone, not just kids going to school.”
The project includes four components. The first is the installation of four rectangular rapid flash beacons to supplement warning signs at unsignaled intersections and mid-block crosswalks. The beacons, at a cost of $20,000 each, operate by push button. They will be located at the intersections of Boston Post Road and Old Post Road, Hewlett Avenue and Forest Avenue, Apawamis Avenue and Forest, and Forest at Eve Lane.
At this point, the design work for the first three is close to final approval from DOT, but their design review staff rejected the Forest/Eve location. Even though it was included in the grant award, DOT staff determined that the legal status of the Eve Lane footpath and its awkward passage to the rear of Midland School made it ineligible for funding.
City Planner Christian Miller says the City is hopeful that the funding for Eve Lane can be passed along to another part of the project.
The second and fourth components, which include pedestrian safety improvements at Theall/Osborn Road and Milton School/Hewlett Avenue, and cost nearly $100,000, are “moving along” at typical DOT pace, according to Miller.
Miller reports that the third component of the grant — to extend existing curbs at the intersection of Grace Church Street and Midland Avenue — has been red-lighted by the City. The crossing distance is nearly 100 feet and creates a barrier for children walking from the Louden Woods area to Midland School. The intersection currently lacks pedestrian signals. Part of the project is to modify the existing narrow center island on Grace Church to provide a pedestrian refuge area – resulting in a much shorter crossing distance.
But after the grant was awarded, and while the City was working on the details, Miller added, they concluded it would make much more sense to convert the single, five-sided intersection into two four-sided ones, which would help pedestrians crossing Manursing Avenue as well as Midland.
While this revised plan may be better, it is not eligible for DOT funds, because it involves a County road, and that road was not included in the grant request. Thus the $44,782 in funds for that project will have to be returned.
Rye has hired traffic consultant John Meyer of Armonk to help the City develop a detailed plan for their revised proposal. Miller expects that it will be ready in October. He asserts that the project will be so improved that it will be worth the possible delay due to design work and lack of City capital improvement funds.
Meanwhile, it will depend upon DOT’s final review as to when the projects get the green light.