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Mount Pleasant Residents Demand Action to Alleviate Traffic Problems

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Mount Pleasant officials are weighing closing several roads to trucks in the vicinity of the Amazon warehouse and distribution center under construction on Route 9A in Hawthorne to prevent commercial traffic from overwhelming residential neighborhoods.

The Town Board has scheduled a public hearing for next Tuesday, Nov. 23, to potentially prohibit trucks from using Belmont Road, West Stevens Avenue, Pythian Avenue and perhaps some other streets, said Town Engineer David Smyth, who formerly worked for the county as a traffic engineer.

Smyth said the build-up of traffic on Route 9A calls for the town to address the matter and offer some relief to residents.

“Besides that, and besides the fact that we are parallel between two major state routes, it does makes sense to put some kind of commercial restrictions on Belmont, on Stevens to prevent, and ultimately discuss on Pythian, too, to prevent commercial traffic that may eventually come from 9A, to avoid using that area as a cut-through,” Smyth said.

Announcement of next week’s hearing came as several residents spoke how they feared their roads could be swamped by the volume of vehicles looking for short-cuts through town, particularly when the Amazon facility is opened in the latter part of 2023. That 153,000-square-foot building is expected to attract 100 full-time employees to the site every day and have 778 parking spaces, more than 60 van loading spaces and 12 truck loading areas.

The scheduling of the hearing also came after Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi, who met with residents of Belmont, West Stevens and Pythian late last month, recently announced that a broader study of the most congested areas of town would be conducted, which also includes Bradhurst Avenue near the Westchester Medical Center.

Residents last week presented the Town Board with a petition containing roughly 275 signatures asking for immediate steps to address the traffic woes they said they would almost certainly face once the warehouse and distribution center opens.

Pythian Avenue resident Kathleen Ciano said their neighborhoods are already suffering during peak hours.

“We want change now,” Ciano told the board at last Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re impacted now. We understand that Amazon is going to add to it, but the point is we’ve been kind of biting our tongue and the kids can’t even go out after school and ride their bikes. They’re on the cul-de-sac because of rush hour traffic.”

Dominick Vita, another Pythian Avenue resident, said the key issue is the drivers using their streets as a cut-through between Route 9A and Bradhurst Avenue. The fact that the Amazon distribution center will be a 24/7 operation will only exacerbate residents’ problems, he said.

“We’re concerned that our neighborhood is particularly vulnerable to traffic because of its location between major roadways and its use as a cut-through between these major roadways, which on some days is near constant, especially on Joyce Place, Pythian Avenue and Belmont Road, the main artery,” Vita said.

The petition suggested that the town do everything in its power to push traffic away from the residential streets and work with the state Department of Transportation and local police to find solutions. Other possibilities not included in the petition but which have been a source of conversation are working with larger businesses on Route 9A and Bradhurst Avenue to get their cooperation and placing a traffic light at Joyce Place and Belmont Road.

Fulgenzi said the Town Board is listening closely to what the residents are saying and hope to alleviate the traffic volume and congestion.

“I do promise you that this is something we’re taking very seriously and we’ve started already working on it,” Fulgenzi said. “There is no immediate solution here but we’re starting, we’re starting the process.”

During last week’s discussion, Smyth reported recently recorded traffic counts along some of the key roads in the vicinity and the types of vehicles that used the streets. During a seven-day period, there were 5,100 vehicles on Belmont Road, 1,900 on West Stevens Avenue and 4,300 on Warren Avenue.

By comparison, there were 23,000 vehicles in the same time frame on Bradhurst Avenue, 13,000 on Columbus Avenue and 9,000 on Broadway.

Trucks accounted for roughly 20 percent of the traffic on Belmont Road and other nearby arteries, Smyth said.

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