With spring, our attention can turn to fixing bumps, potholes, and drainage problems in what City Manager Scott Pickup describes as “the busiest unnamed street in Rye.”
By Tom McDermott
With spring, our attention can turn to fixing bumps, potholes, and drainage problems in what City Manager Scott Pickup describes as “the busiest unnamed street in Rye.” They are planning to have permanent pothole remedies to ensure the safety of everyone.
He was referring to the road that bumps along from Purchase Street through the middle of a long Metro-North commuter parking lot located in South Station Plaza. This narrow two-way road runs past Rye Grill & Bar, a taxi stand, Rye Police Headquarters, and the Municipal Court at McCullough Place, by Avon’s back door, to where it meets Peck Avenue. There, motorists may continue to Boston Post Road or Midland Avenue.
Maybe it should just be called “Really Busy” Road.
Even during daylight hours, many motorists and pedestrians do not realize this is an active road, since for most of it, there is no clearly marked dividing line. They believe that they’re simply driving or walking through a parking lot. The pedestrians, especially, often do not realize how vulnerable they are to traffic as they meander to and from town at lunchtime or the train station any time.
After dark, the poorly lit area becomes more confusing, especially at rush-hour, when vehicles arrive for pick-up, commuters alight from trains, and walk across the road to their parked vehicles.
Metro-North owns the parking spaces nearest the station and shares parking revenue with the City. Although the roadway and the parking lot have been in bad shape and annoying residents and visitors for a long time, there are currently no plans for either the City or MTA/Metro-North to fix them.
Pickup explained that it makes no sense for the City, on its own, to use scarce capital funds to try for a quick-fix in the form of repaving, filling, and painting. Heavy traffic, icy winters, and poor drainage would only tear the road apart again relatively soon.
The City would prefer to work with the MTA’s real estate group on a 20-year long-term revenue agreement to replace the current month-to-month deal, and to get the MTA to share the cost of a major overhaul of the parking lot, roadway, and drainage system.
But that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, according to Pickup. He said, these days the MTA and Metro-North are more focused on areas near stations as major development options and don’t want long-term deals with the City.
The long-term solution to roadway improvement and safety then would seem directly related to increased parking and revenue. But, Rye has always resisted building parking garages near downtown and the train station, as Port Chester did a few years ago, when it redeveloped its much larger and busier downtown.
Rye currently has over 200 residents on the waiting list for the $720 annual commuter parking permits at the station lot. According to the City Clerk’s office, some residents have even turned down permits for the Highland Road and Cedar Street commuter parking spaces, holding out for the spaces closer to the train platforms.
Would it take building a higher-capacity parking garage in order to get Metro-North interested in the prospect of increased revenue sharing and a long-term agreement with the City? That, in turn, might allow for the two to agree on how to fix Unnamed Street, when to do it, and how much each would need to spend.
But, even if the City got Metro-North’s attention soon, it would be an extremely long, very bumpy, and expensive road to improvement that ultimately would need to go through a possibly lengthy and definitely political approval process.
Meanwhile, local tire and suspension repair shops may just call it “Easy Street.”