DOT Considering Putting Sidewalks Along Busy Stretch of Rt. 59 in Monsey


rt-59-monseyThe Journal News reports: Ricki Weiss regularly walks on the shoulder of Route 59, pushing her two youngest kids in a stroller while her 3- and 4-year-old tag along. It’s tough enough to travel and shop with young children, but Weiss also has to worry about her family getting hit by a passing car.

There are almost no sidewalks on Route 59 between Robert Pitt Drive and Route 306, but there are a grocery store, loads of shops and service businesses that draw people from the nearby neighborhood. Seeing women pushing strollers on either side of Route 59 is commonplace.

“It’s very nerve-wracking, especially with small kids,” Weiss said.

It’s worse when it rains since pedestrians have to trek through puddles, and worse yet in the snow when there is less shoulder to walk on due to plowed snow.

The state Department of Transportation is now considering whether to install sidewalks along that stretch of road, which is about three-tenths of a mile long and used by some 20,000 cars daily.

Since 2006, one Monsey woman has been killed and several pedestrians have been injured along that part of the state road.

The sidewalk project is still in the planning stages with many questions still to be answered: Are sidewalks needed on both sides of the road? Should it be a standalone job or part of a larger project? A final decision is not expected for another few months. Even if officials determine sidewalks are needed, finding the money could be an issue.

The agency has already put up countdown timers at pedestrian crossing signals on Route 59 at Robert Pitt Drive and Route 306.

Yaakov Landau said they would prove useful. Most people have no idea how much time they have left to cross Route 59 when they reach the crosswalk, he said. The timers count down from 25 seconds.

People might be less likely to run across the street knowing there are only a few seconds before the light changes to green, said Landau, who lives in Monsey.

Michael Cotton, a regional traffic and safety engineer with the DOT, said there is “a lot of conflicting movement” between drivers and pedestrians in that area.

¬†First of all, there are three lanes of traffic with a shared center turn lane. Cars are constantly pulling into and out of commercial driveways and using the shoulders to pass cars and make turns. Add pedestrians walking in those shoulders or standing in the middle of Route 59 to cross the road, and you’ve got a dangerous mix.

“It just causes a lot of confusion,” Cotton said on Tuesday.

The DOT conducted the traffic study earlier this year at the request of Rockland County Legislator Alden Wolfe. Last August, Wolfe, D-Suffern, asked the DOT to see if safety measures were sufficient for pedestrians in the area.

Wolfe said the tense interplay between car and pedestrian was “something that everybody was aware of,” but the DOT’s analysis helped identify possible solutions.

Cotton said the sidewalk recommendation is now being reviewed by the DOT’s planning committee. If it were to move forward, the DOT would seek the public’s input to determine the best location. The project, if approved, wouldn’t begin until 2011 at the earliest, Cross said.

Wolfe knew finding money for the project could pose a problem, but he was pleased that the need for sidewalks in that stretch had been recognized. “It may be a little while before they do that work,” Wolfe said.

{The Journal News/Noam Newscenter}