MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Part of the Swan Cove park/municipal park project will include a reconfiguring of the Route 6/6N intersection and the traffic light there. At the Town Board’s Sept. 25 meeting, Supervisor Ken Schmitt spelled out some of the challenges it will present to the town and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) as the project moves forward.
Schmitt said the DOT also wants to prohibit parking on the south side of Route 6 from the traffic light stop line west of the Spain Insurance Agency building, eastward to Buckshollow Road, as well as prohibit left-hand turns from Buckshollow Road (by the Spain building) onto Route 6 as part of the intersection’s makeover.
“Several weeks ago, I met with representatives of the Department of Transportation to discuss the signal improvements at the intersections of routes 6 and 6N. The traffic signal at that location is going to be upgraded and improved,” Schmitt said. "This is a project the DOT says will begin in 2020. It’s going out to bid now and hopefully, they will have a contractor in place to move this along. It’s going to be a major improvement
“Anyone who has traveled through that intersection knows there needs to be work done and the DOT acknowledges that,” Schmitt added.
Schmitt said one of the things he discussed with the DOT reps was adding a green light arrow to the traffic signal in order to allow eastbound traffic on Route 6 to make a left-hand turn—essentially a U-turn around Crossroad Deli—to get to Route 6N and possibly enter into the new municipal parking lot that will be built next spring. Instead, Schmitt said, the DOT said it would simply prohibit cars on Route 6 from making that looping left-hand turn onto 6N.
“My suggestion was that unless you are going to create two lanes of traffic (on Route 6), it’s very difficult for a car there making a left-hand turn to cross over two lanes of traffic,” Schmitt said. “They could either prohibit a left-hand turn there or create a second lane of traffic. The DOT said they couldn’t create a second lane of traffic, but they agreed they would prohibit left-hand turns from that location.”
Councilman Jonathan Schneider called the DOT’s decision not to utilize a traffic arrow allowing cars to make that turn from 6 onto 6N a “head-scratcher.”
“I understand we have to look at the big picture, but if we are going to have a left-hand turn, it should go into our brand-new municipal parking lot, which is going to be our downtown highlight,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t make much sense to have no left turn in what’s the most major intersection. This seems like it’s going to be more of a headache and less conducive to good traffic flow than what we have presently or what the alternative would be.”
Schmitt said he asked for that green arrow turn but the DOT said no.
“They won’t do it. They said it would cause too much of a capacity issue on Route 6,” he said.
Judy Mira of the Putnam County Traffic Safety Board said the Route 6/6N intersection has appeared on the board’s agenda on more than one occasion.
“One time I was going home on Route 6 and was stopped at the light when someone [coming the other way] made that left—not through Crossroads Deli but around (onto 6N)—and it was horrifying,” she said. “It’s so dangerous there and you never know what someone else is going to do.”
She invited Schmitt to come to a Traffic Safety Board meeting and discuss the intersection further.
Schmitt said he would also like to see a sign prohibiting eastbound traffic on Route 6 from making a left-hand turn into the Gulf gas station. It was pointed out that there is a double-yellow line there, which should automatically prohibit it. But Schmitt said that sometimes westbound motorists will wave other cars through to the gas station, even though there is a second lane of traffic running parallel to them and has often resulted in cars getting t-boned there.
Mahopac resident Scott Reing said an even bigger problem is people coming out of the Gulf station and trying to make a left across the double yellow line and head east. He suggested a traffic camera be placed there to catch violators.
“It could raise some revenue, but more importantly, hopefully, it could stop people from doing it,” he said.
Schmitt agreed, saying traffic should always turn right out of that gas station.
Schmitt agreed to table the intersection discussion until board members could study the DOT request more thoroughly and visit the intersection for closer examination.
Councilman Mike Barile said the traffic light issue was part of the overall puzzle of putting together the new municipal parking lot and the Swan Cove park.