In an article by Robert Marchant in the February 21, 2013 edition of the Journal News, it was reported that The New York State Department of Transportation has finally agreed to make safety improvements to the Bear Mountain Parkway. This comes after years of requests by the Town of Cortlandt, and citizens in Northern Westchester, after several serious and often fatal accidents on the parkway.
The Bear Mountain Parkway was constructed between 1929 and 1932 after it was proposed by the legendary Robert Moses, who was involved in much of the construction of roadways, bridges and parks in the New York metropolitan area from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. The Parkway is actually an incomplete highway of approximately 3.85 miles from the Peekskill City line on the south to Route 202 at its northern end in Cortlandt. There is a small section adjacent to the Taconic Parkway of approximately 3/4 of a mile, but this section does not present the same safety issues as it is for one way travel.
The Bear Mountain Parkway has traffic of approximately 15,000 to 20,000 cars on a daily basis. The parkway does have medians on portions which are considered to be more dangerous to prevent head on collisions, but unfortunately, there have been several fatal car crashes during the last several years. On January 29, 2008, 34 year old Sharon Czerwinsk of Lake Peekskill was killed when her 1991 Toyota Camry crossed the double yellow line near the parkway’s intersection with Carhart Avenue and stuck a SUV head on. The impact was so violent that the SUV flipped over and landed on its roof.
On December 9, 2011, another head on collision on the parkway claimed the life of 27 year old Lamar Barnes, also of Lake Peekskill. This accident resulted in renewed requests by the Town of Cortlandt for concrete barriers separating the two sides of the roadway, which are winding, with steep grades and on which drivers tend to travel at an excessive rate of speed for the roadway configuration. At the time, Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi noted that she had been lobbying New York State for years for barriers, which “wouldn’t totally eliminate accidents…but…it’s common sense.”
On July 9, 2012, the New York State police reported that there was another fatal accident on the parkway near the intersection of Carhart Avenue in which a motorcyclist was killed when he was struck head on by a car. Apparently, this last accident finally got the attention of the State. The New York State Department of Transportation has reported that it will install medians on portions of the parkway, add a new traffic light at Frost Lane, and provide new sings and reflectors throughout the almost 4 mile stretch of the parkway. The cost of the project, which is expected to commence in the summer of 2013 and be completed in the fall, will be approximately 3 million dollars. The spokesperson for the State noted that: “After hearing community concerns about the Bear Mountain Parkway, we are taking quick action to implement engineering solutions that will help slow traffic down, protect walkers and prevent dangerous crossover accidents so that both motorists and pedestrians can use the highway more safely.”