New Castle, NY: All it takes is a fatal accident

23 Mar

Rightly, officials in New Castle, Westchester County are exploring how the Roaring Brook Road level crossing in Chappaqua can be made safer. While any improvements in configuration are to be welcomed, it is unfortunate that they are being discussed after rather than before the February 3rd fatal accident.

The intent for there to be a road-over-rail bridge which replaces the Roaring Brook Road level crossing  have been included in the town’s planning framework since 1963. The development of the nearby Reader’s Digest campus led to the land needed to construct a bridge over the railway being offered to the town. Subsequently, when the town plans were updated in 1989, there was provision for a grade-separated route across the railway. Thus more than 50 years since the bridge was proposed, there is still no funding for a grade separation.

Rather, the plans put in place call for more education of road users, enhanced pavement markings and more intrusive policing of the crossing. The latter is to be achieved through the town’s police officers routinely ticketing motorists who use the level crossing in other than the required manner. This policing is over and above the campaigns mounted by the MTA transport police.

As for the bridge, the expectation is that at some point in the future either the developers behind the scheme to turn the Reader’s Digest site into a major shopping centre with a residential dimension will pay and/or federal funds will be provided.

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