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Ask Westchester: The Bill Rubin Edition


Q: When they widened the Taconic north off Route 202 in Yorktown, they built a pedestrian bridge over the highway about a mile north of 202. I can see benches and signs on both sides, but I never see anyone on the bridge and I believe there is no way to get to it. Where does the Yorktown “bridge to nowhere” lead?
—Bill Rubin, Yorktown Heights

A: Nowhere. Okay, not nowhere, but not really anywhere, either. So, you might very well ask, why build a bridge to nowhere? According to Director of Planning John Tegner, Yorktown residents suggested that a pedestrian walkway was needed to connect an old system of trails that run along the west side of the Taconic to North County Trailway trails on the east side of the parkway. Unfortunately, no one bothered to check that the trails on the east side of the thoroughfare actually existed. Oops. Nevertheless, Yorktown got its 113-ton bridge courtesy of the State of New York.

However, Tegner and the whole gang at the Yorktown Town Hall are working to fix this embarrassing problem. The big
idea: put trailways in (duh), build a baseball field, a football field, and two soccer fields nearby, and ensure that the Westchester County Master Plan includes routes from the North County Trailway, through the proposed recreational area, to the bridge and beyond. But such projects require funding, and that takes renewed public activism.

Q: When will Trump State Park in Yorktown (both parcels) ever be anything more than undeveloped pieces of land? I believe the most money spent on it was the big signs on the Taconic. Even the signs leading to the properties once you get off the highway are tiny.
—Bill Rubin, Yorktown Heights

A: We thought about calling The Donald, but instead turned (again) to Director of Planning John Tegner. The park is owned by the state, and the state is willing to have Yorktown do a little maintenance and monitor the park for the right to develop some smaller structures on the land. So far, the town has agreed to…a dog park. Other than that, only minor work has been done to the park since Trump turned over the land.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation reports that there are no current plans to develop the park. Apparently, those budget cuts we keep hearing about hit the State’s 178 parks pretty hard. So Bill, you have a task: get funding from the state and federal government to finish your town park. Maybe then you can convince them to build some signs for you.

Q: Why don’t the Taconic Parkway exits have numbers? It’s the only major highway in the area that doesn’t.
—Bill Rubin, Yorktown Heights

A: Ah yes, the bucolic Taconic, the 104-mile, longest-in-the-state, four-county-spanning parkway known for both its natural splendor as well as for its dangerous unlit curves and open straight-aways that suggest its name be changed to the “Taconic Motor Speedway.” Still, where are its exit numbers?

But first… The Taconic is the only major highway in the area without exit numbers? We think not. And we’re not just referring to highways missing exit numbers (meet us right off exit 24 of the Hutch).

Nycroads.com reports that some of the exits on the Taconic originally were numbered. Essentially, each county would number at-grade crossings (places where no bridges or tunnels carry cars across the highway, so cars on the highway have to stop to let perpendicular traffic cross) using the first letter of the county name followed by a sequential number that reset when the parkway entered the next county. So the first exit in Westchester would be W1; in Putnam, P1; in Dutchess, D1; and in Columbia: C1. But the signs used were much smaller than the signs indicating the name of the crossing street. They were more akin to those reference markers you see on the side of the road, and were, according to the Department of Transportation, “used for identifying intersections for accident record keeping and emergency responders. The numbers were not intended for motorists to follow.” Besides, in Westchester, most of the at-grade crossings were closed or re-engineered with bridges, overpasses, or other improvements to, the Department of Transportation tells us, increase safety, so there’s nothing to number now anyway.

So, to quote our buddies in Albany one more time, since “unlike interstates and many other controlled or limited-access highways, many of the Taconic State Parkway’s original interchanges were constructed as traditional intersections.” There was really no need for exit numbers when cars had to stop at crossings where the driver could see the name of the street marking his location. And though we didn’t ask, we wonder if this was the same reasoning as those who built and maintained the Sprain (yes, that’s the other highway) is also un-numbered. So, Bill, you have a task: get funding from the county and the state and the federal government and get out there and number the Taconic Parkway. Maybe then you can even convince the State of New York to name that bridge it built over it after you.

Got any curiosities about our county? Don’t keep ’em to yourself. Email them to us at edit@westchestermagazine.com, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally get a straight (or not-so-straight) answer right here.


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