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Tarrytown Wants Fix For Traffic Near Firehouse

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A recent decision by the New York State Department of Transportation to fix a portion of problems with traffic along Route 119 near the Washington Engine Company has Tarrytown trustees frustrated.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” Trustee Robert Hoyt said.

Tarrytown officials asked the state to allow them to put a traffic pre-emption device at the intersection of Route 119 and Meadow Street, which sits adjacent to the firehouse. The device would be used to stop the flow of traffic in both directions so fire trucks could safely enter and exit the firehouse.

Route 119 is a state-controlled road. Village Administrator Michael Blau said after numerous letters, the state told the village it would allow them to stop westbound traffic coming from Elmsford to Tarrytown, but not eastbound traffic going in the opposite direction.

“This is all they've allowed us to do,” Blau told trustees during Monday's village board work session when they questioned the wisdom of the plan.

Blau said the state believes the fire truck itself will block eastbound traffic as it backs into the firehouse, making the traffic pre-emption device redundant. Hoyt, a volunteer firefighter, said that is an unrealistic idea.

“Nobody stops,” he said, noting that he's seen cars go up into the grass to try to drive around the truck. Having firefighters get out to try to stop traffic is also not a good idea, Hoyt said. He said when firefighters have done so in the past, they've nearly been run over.

Trustee Mary McGee said she thought the village should go ahead and install the westbound traffic device because it would add a measure of safety. Then, she said, the village can come back to the state and show more needed to be done.

New York State Department of Transportation Spokesperson Sue Stepp said the state decided to allow eastbound traffic because the traffic pre-emption device at Meadow Street would stop the flow of traffic in the three other directions. Stopping eastbound traffic at Meadow Street means creating a impediment, Stepp said.

“The fire truck would be making a left turn onto Route 119 into a queue of cars waiting at the light,” she said.

Stepp also said the state dismissed the idea of stopping traffic at the I-287/I-87 ramp further east of the firehouse because it would still create a line of cars that could impede the fire truck.

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