The Examiner

New Castle Demands Rt. 117 Left Turn Lane for Whole Foods Opening

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Members of the New Castle Town Board and Planning Board along with town staff press Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield to open a left turn lane from Route 117 by the scheduled Dec. 12 opening of Whole Foods.

A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the new Whole Foods could be in jeopardy unless Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield provides a left turn lane from Route 117 onto Roaring Brook Road by the supermarket’s scheduled Dec.12 opening.

Town Board and Planning Board members met with Summit/Greenfield representatives last Friday and issued an ultimatum that a lane be opened to accommodate an expected surge in traffic around the former Reader’s Digest site or the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy could be withheld. They fear the new supermarket along with increased holiday traffic will overwhelm the intersection, particularly during peak hours.

“You have to have a turn lane, you have to be able to move the traffic,” said town Supervisor Robert Greenstein. “It would be a disaster if you don’t have a turn lane.”

The left turn lane is one of many conditions that Summit/Greenfield is required to satisfy for the Chappaqua Crossing project.

Officials were unconvinced by the explanation from John Collins, a traffic engineer for Summit/Greenfield, who said the planned right turn lane from southbound Route 117 onto Roaring Brook Road will help traffic flow at the intersection. It is expected to be functioning in time for the Whole Foods opening.

Collins contended that the right turn lane would allow for the timing of the signals to be adjusted at the intersection, including a longer green light for northbound traffic on Route 117, while southbound traffic remains stopped. Under that scenario, motorists will have an easier time making the left turn allowing for more vehicles to proceed through the intersection, he said.

Collins said the intersection, which has a current rating of an F, would improve to a B or C by opening the right turn lane and adjusting the signal.

Members of both boards reminded Summit/Greenfield that the reason for requiring the left turn lane was the severe congestion at Roaring Brook Road and Route 117.

“We know that that intersection is going to be bad, whether there’s a spike or not, no matter what, which is why the condition of a left turn lane was put in to try and mitigate that somewhat,” said Councilwoman Lisa Katz.

Greenstein said that prior to last Friday’s meeting he expected the right and left turn lanes to be ready by Dec. 12. He called the traffic issue “the number one, the number two and number three concerns” surrounding Chappaqua Crossing.

Planning Board Chairman Robert Kirkwood said it’s a near certainty there will be a traffic surge once crowds start descending on Whole Foods.

“It’s the holidays, it’s the opening of a new Whole Foods store, there will be great excitement, which is fantastic, but can we deal with that antiquated condition and not say it’s going to be better because of this?” Kirkwood said.

Summit/Greenfield has a few imposing hurdles to clear to complete the turn lane. In order to install the lane, there has to be a retaining wall with a drainage structure, said Summit/Greenfield Chief Executive Officer Felix Charney. Also, the asphalt plants, to provide the material to pave the road, close on Dec. 21, he said.

Planning Board member Tom Curley pressed Summit/Greenfield to provide the town staff and consultants with a plan on how they will create the lane as quickly as possible. He also said the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy doesn’t only depend on the turn lane but on the progress of a host of other conditions.

Charney and attorney Mark Weingarten responded that conditions within the Chappaqua Crossing campus will be satisfied. But Curley expressed skepticism.

“It’s time to step up,” Curley said. “If you want this from us you have to finally step up and get these things done. We’ve tried to do it your way for like four years. Now it’s time to get it done.”




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