The town is giving drivers fair warning that they will be ticketed if they speed on Brick Hill Road, a notorious shortcut that links Routes 202 and 139.
The narrow, winding residential byway has been on the town’s radar for a while, Supervisor Rick Morrissey said at a recent Town Board meeting.
While there have been numerous accidents on Brick Hill, none of them have involved serious injuries.
But, said one worried resident, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, or worse.
“It’s dangerous,” said Gio Biziack, adding: “It’s going to happen one day.”
The most recent accident, police said, involved a 16-year-old male teenager driving south on Brick Hill Road at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 10. Police Chief Mike Driscoll said the teen lost control of the car and struck a utility poll. He was treated and released from the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and given a ticket for driving alone with a permit, Driscoll said.
Brick Hill has a posted speed limit of 30 mph.
Biziack, the mother of a 4-year-old, appeared before the board on Thursday, Dec. 13, to plead for action.
She told it that she is afraid to let her son play in their yard, even if he’s nowhere near the road. She has similar concerns for her father while he’s mowing the lawn.
Her dad once was honked at by a driver, not, she said, because the person was giving a friendly warning, but apparently to say: “Hey! Get out of the way.”
“He wasn’t in the middle of the road; he was on our property,” she said.
As for the teen, who crashed right across the road from her house, she said, “had he not swerved and gone to the other side of the road, he would have been in my kitchen where my father and my 4-year-old son were having breakfast. That could have been tragic.”
Cars have frequently wound up slipping and sliding into their yard during snow or ice storms, Biziack recalled.
Among the solutions she suggested were: a four-way stop at the intersection of Brick Hill with Palma Road and Elm Avenue, banning big trucks, and instituting no right turn on red rules at both ends of Brick Hill.
Legally, the town cannot keep licensed drivers off public roads, town attorney Roland Baroni said.
However, certain vehicles could be restricted based on their weight if there are safety issues, such as the possibility of surpassing a bridge’s weight limit.
There is a small bridge over a brook at the Route 202 end of Brick Hill. The town intends to check in with DOT folks to see what its weight limit is.
As far as the no-right-on-red deal, that might only end up moving the traffic problem to nearby Lovell Street, which is, town officials allowed, straighter and less hilly than Brick Hill.
Councilman Tom Garrity said the town needed to “look at the ticketing option first.”
Morrissey assured Biziack that her concerns, which she has raised before, are not falling on deaf ears.
The town has had engineering and transportation experts look at ways—such as striping—to make Brick Hill safer.
(It’s too narrow to stripe, aka create right turn, left turn or straight ahead lanes.)
They did install traffic lights at both ends of the road; one at Primrose Drive (Route 139) and the other at Somers Road (Route 202).
Other Westchester communities such as Yorktown have installed, and later removed, speed humps, raised pavements areas that are gentler versions of speed bumps.
Because of the latter’s abrupt design, their use is very restricted and are generally only seen in parking lots or on private roads.
But even speed humps can cause problems if folks are not paying attention, noted Councilman Anthony Cirieco.
“People fly down them (the road) and Boom!” he said.
Biziack said she had considered placing boulders along the edge of her yard.
That, unfortunately, that’s not allowed in the public right-of-way, she was told.
Morrissey wondered if a guardrail would prevent cars from ending up in Biziack’s yard. But she thought it would be an “eyesore.”
Councilman Richard Clinchy suggested putting in monitors that alert drivers if they are violating the speed limit.
“Most people will slow down,” he said.
Signs such as the ones on Katonah’s Cherry Street—another so-called shortcut—warning drivers that cameras are being used also seems to help.
Morrissey promised residents that local police will give Brick Hill a lot “more attention.”
That may include the installation of a speed camera, he said, adding that he and Driscoll have had many discussions about Brick Hill’s traffic woes.
Enhanced enforcement and posting of “Drive like your children live here” signs is something the town can do right now.
“And we’ll start issuing warnings and summonses if that’s what it takes,” Morrissey said.
Brick Hill isn’t the only road in town where people go too fast, especially at night, perhaps because they think there aren’t any pedestrians around.
They would be wrong, said Clinchy: “There are people all over the place and we’re trying to even encourage people to walk in various parts of the town.”
“It’s a residential town now, not a rural town. We’ve searched for solutions. Maybe we never will find them because some people will always be irresponsible. But it wouldn’t hurt to draw a spotlight to it.”
Biziack said the bottom line is simply “to care.”
“People are not careful about that road,” she said.