NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— A nearly $410,000 grant that North Salem had sought to make safety improvements at the Purdys Metro-North Train Station has been approved.
In 2016, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) made $98.7 million in funding available to support bicycle, pedestrian, multi-use path and transportation projects as well as projects that reduce congestion and meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
The funding was made available to the state through the Federal Highway Administration through its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and provides up to 80 percent of project-related cost, with the remaining 20 percent covered by those requesting the money for projects.
Town Supervisor Warren Lucas learned last week that it had been approved.
Specifically, he said the money will be used to help North Salem pay its portion of improvements agreed to in a 2016 memorandum of understanding with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for a project that will make significant safety-related changes at the station.
Discussions for the renovations began back in 2012, when Lucas and former North Salem Town Councilman Christopher Brockmeyer began working with the MTA to rectify the closing of the pedestrian stairs to the train station from Route 116. A letter was sent to then-Metro-North President Howard Permut, after which began a discussion about the lack of pedestrian access to the train station. Lucas said discussions continued with current Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti, and that meetings were held in 2015 and 2016 between the MTA and DOT.
Brockmeyer, now a member of the North Salem planning board, expressed relief that the long-awaited project may soon be moving forward.
“While it’s astonishing that this relatively simple project will have taken nearly 6 years from first inquiry to completion, it’s terrific that the dangerous conditions for pedestrian access to the Purdys Station are finally being addressed. Safe and pleasant pedestrian access to the train station might even encourage Purdys Hamlet residents to walk to the train station more often and help reduce traffic congestion,” he said.
In 2009, a pedestrian, 57-year-old Anna Werner, was killed while walking along Route 116 to get to her car across the street. There are currently no sidewalks along Route 116. That coupled with the lack of a usable staircase has been a safety issue for people using the Purdys train station.
Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding, the MTA has agreed to build a new pedestrian ramp from Route 116 down to the train station and the state DOT will rebuild the section along the overpass to provide pedestrian access, as well as a sidewalk and guardrail, to protect people walking along the heavily-trafficked overpass.
For its part of the deal, the Town of North Salem will install sidewalks and lighting from Titicus River Road to the end of the Exit 7 northbound ramp of I-684. Lucas said the cost of North Salem’s portion of the project is estimated to be $510,000. With the newly-approved grant totaling $409,952, North Salem is responsible for the remaining $102,000, or 20 percent of the $510,000 required for the project.
Supervisor Warren Lucas was pleased with the influx of the new grant money, saying that over the next year, the town will be looking for additional funds to make up what is now its $102,000 share.
“What that will do is give us more attractive lighting, benches and about 350 feet of sidewalks from the Lion’s (Club) building up to the exit 7 exit ramp,” he explained
Lucas said the MTA plans to install a ramp as opposed to simply replacing the now-barricaded staircase, because stairs, he said, are not ADA compliant and that the DOT will be rebuilding the sidewalks along the overpass to allow pedestrian access to the new MTA ramp.
Currently many commuters walk through the woods or down the car ramp to get to the train station. Others walk along the overpass.
Lucas said the pedestrian access as outlined in the memorandum of understanding between the town, DOT and MTA will cost in excess of $2 million when it is completed in the fall of 2018.