CROTON-ON-HUDSON — It’s easy to see why they call it “rush hour” at the Croton-Harmon train station during peak commuting times. Cars pull in and out as fast as busy traffic will allow, and with a mix of pedestrians and a few cyclists thrown in, a hectic combination is the result.
A $1.7 million federal grant that would add traffic lights and a more orderly traffic pattern has been authorized to solve the problem, amid concerns about the project’s cost. Village leaders recently approved the design and engineering phase of the project, which could begin in 2012 or 2013.C
“It would make it safer, and easier for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians,” Mayor Leo Wiegman said.
Besides a traffic light at the entrance of the station, two other lights would be placed at the nearby entrances of Route 9 (at the southbound and northbound lanes). The lights would be coordinated to allow a steady flow of traffic on a green signal. Pedestrian enhancements and more street lighting would also be a part of the package.
The entrance to the busy station was built by the state in the 1960s, when concern for pedestrians and cyclists was not a priority.
There have been numerous minor accidents along the corridor leading to the station and near-misses with pedestrians.
“The state planned it for maximum speed,” said Wiegman, who recalled that he had been nearly struck twice himself by vehicles while walking near the station. “We want to give safe passage to cyclists and pedestrians, as well as cars.”
The grant would require Croton village funding, as well, though that amount has yet to be determined. The amount of local spending is already raising concerns.
Keith Douglas, who works in municipal administration and is running for local office, questioned the timing of the project.
“It’s a good project. But at this point in time, with the recession, is it a good time to do it?” Douglas said.
He and other Republicans running for seats on the village board have been critical of a $97,000 outlay to hire a consultant that was spent studying parking issues at the station. “They’re giving consultants free rein,” he said.
Wiegman noted the parking report was completed under-budget and could cost moderately less than $97,000 once all the accounting is complete. He said it provided valuable financial and planning data, as well as recommendations that could save money over the long term.
As for the plans to reformulate the train station entrance, Wiegman said the money would be lost if the village delayed. The administration is also working to promote economic revitalization of the nearby Harmon business district, and improved access in the area ties in with that goal.
One local commuter, Jimmy Chambers, a college student from Yorktown, said getting to and from the station could be a challenge.
“During rush hour, it’s definitely pretty chaotic,” he said. “It would be good if they made it safer. I see people riding bikes in, and it looks kind of dangerous.”
Cost saving at heart of Croton, Buchanan races
12:41 AM, Mar. 13, 2011 |Written by
Village elections will be held in Croton and Buchanan on Tuesday.
In Croton, the Democratic slate has been promoting its financial strategy and steps for long-term growth. Republicans, meanwhile, question their commitment to an open and accountable government and say cost controls have been less than stringent when it comes to consulting fees.
Mayor Leo Wiegman, seeking a second term, cites what he called prudent management of village finances, such as putting caps on departmental budgets and keeping the fund balance “as healthy as ever.” Wiegman is running with Trustee Ian Murtaugh and first-time candidate and attorney Casey Raskob.
Wiegman said the village was looking toward economic development, as well: “We’re continuing to invest in the future.” The Democrats are also pointing to a range of smaller, quality-of-life improvements, such as a new farmer’s market and community garden.
Mark Aarons, the Republican candidate for mayor and a Planning Board member, was critical.
Citing village plans for re-making the entrance to the train station, he said the costs involved were excessive at a time when fiscal restraint was in order. “It’s bad fiscal policy, bad fiscal management ,” he said.
Aarons cited a recent train station parking study, saying the consultants weren’t given enough direction or concrete parameters and that the cost came in too high. He is running with trustee candidates Keith Douglas, who works in municipal administration, and Patrick Calcutti, a retired village police officer.
Aarons also criticized the Democratic administration for what he called “secrecy and non-transparency.” Citing a proposal to allow the bow-hunting of deer in the village, which was later dropped, Aarons said: “The execution was poor.” He cited his own background as a lawyer and businessman — “Management is my life. … I believe I know how to delve into administration and project management.”
Democrats have all but one seat on the five-member board. Croton voters will also be asked whether to keep local elections in March or move them to November.