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  • Mamaroneck Observer

64 Days

by Kathy Savolt -

 

A sense of urgency was in the air at the July 1, 2024 meeting of the Village of Mamaroneck Traffic Commission.  Several speakers reminded the Commission and those present that there were only 64 days left to the start of the 2024-25 school year and much had to be done to make the area around Mamaroneck Avenue School (MAS) safer and next week Co-Op Summer Enrichment Camp begins at MAS on July 8th.

 

After the tragic accident of June 20th that claimed the lives of a young kindergarten student and his mother, there has been a groundswell of concern about traffic safety from parents, the community at large, Village police, elected officials and school officials – collectively “the stakeholders.”

 

Many of the stakeholders attended the Commission’s meeting to discuss how to move forward.  Several parents spoke first, starting with Danielle Robles who started an online petition to demand specific actions that has almost 5,000 signatures.  Robles, a Larchmont Village resident whose children attend the Dos Caminos program at MAS, demanded that a comprehensive set of safety issues be in place by the first day of school.  Her list was extensive and a good segue to the presentation by the Village’s traffic consultant, Elaine Du of AKRF.  See presentation HERE.

 

Du presented solutions in order of priority:  near-term, mid-term and long-term.  Du also explained the complexity because of all the different parties involved.  Mamaroneck Avenue is a County Road, and the Village must work closely with County officials and staff before most changes can be made.  County officials, including County Executive George Latimer (who attended the Commission meeting and listened to the concerns) and our County Legislator, Catherine Parker, have pledged to help with safety initiatives.

 

Most striking was the crash statistic at the beginning of her presentation.  From 2014 through 2023 (10 years), there have been 405 crashes on Mamaroneck Avenue between Andrew and Grand Streets.  This is three times the New York State average.

 

Near-term solutions include improving traffic signals, painted curb extensions, improved signage, repainting crosswalks and restricting parking close to intersections.  Mid-term and long-term solutions would require more time and funding to implement.  There was a discussion about the need for a traffic study of Mamaroneck Avenue since the previous one was done in 2019.  The consensus was that things have changed, and an update was necessary.

 

Police Chief Sandra DiRuzza presented a long list of initiatives the department has completed or undertaken.   Adding more crossing guards is on everyone’s list, and it is well known that the Village (and other communities) have difficulty recruiting them.  DiRuzza announced that she is in conversations with a private crossing guard company to address the problem.  In addition, DiRuzza also mentioned missing crosswalk and other markings and the need for additional signage.  She said she’s been working with County staff, and they will be onsite next week to observe traffic flow on Mamaroneck Avenue.  They will also return to do the same once school reopens in September.  DiRuzza has also been working with the New York State Thruway Authority and has already received approval for signage and crosswalks at the I-95 entrance and exit ramps on Mamaroneck Avenue.

 

DiRuzza stressed that parents driving their children to and from school must obey the traffic laws and mentioned enforcement.

 

There are other ongoing traffic safety initiatives whose representatives were also present – Diana Reilly from Rye Neck Safe Routes to Schools and Trustee Leilani Yizar-Reid who is spearheading the federal Vision Zero initiative also spoke about their programs which include driver education.  Yizar-Reid reported that, working with others, she has begun an education program on social media.

 

Commission members Tina Maresca, former coordinator of the Mamaroneck Safe Routes to School initiative, and Laura Abbate both spoke about possible causes of the traffic problems in the area including overdevelopment and proximity to I-95 with traffic from the Town that cuts through Washingtonville to access it.  They wondered if another entrance/exit could be added to remove the burden.

 

Mayor Sharon Torres also attended the meeting explaining that regular discussions with County officials and staff were underway, much like the regular flood meetings that gather all involved parties together.  Torres stressed that the Village needed to go forward as a single entity in agreement with the priorities.  She asked the advisory Traffic Commission to pull together a list of priorities from everything they heard at the meeting.

 

This portion of the Commission meeting ended with Commission member Erica Swanson, a traffic consultant by trade, reminding everyone that “We are the traffic.  We are the ones that have to do better.”



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