Put Valley Threatens to Sue County if Peekskill Hollow Road Weight Limit is Rescinded
Putnam Valley is prepared to take legal action against the county if it lifts the temporary weight restriction on Peekskill Hollow Road.
“If the (county’s highway) commissioner proceeds with lifting the weight limit, there would be what is known as an Article 78 proceeding that the town would bring, challenging that act,” said Town Counsel Robert Lusardi at the Feb. 19 Putnam Valley Town Board meeting.
A weight limit on Peekskill Hollow Road was implemented in 2013 to prevent tractor-trailers from regularly using the roadway, after residents expressed concern over the dangers of having such large vehicles on that thoroughfare.
However, Putnam County Highway Commissioner Fred Pena recently suggested removing the weight restriction.
Resident Victor Tishop, who led the charge several years ago to get the weight limit implemented, said the roadway is not a commercial through-truck route.
“It is a rural, residential, community road,” he said. “Peekskill Hollow Road began as a Native American trail meant for wagons during Colonial times, and now for cars. It is not an engineered road capable of safely handling large, heavy through-truck traffic due to its natural historic limitations and configurations.”
Tishop suggested that the reason for allowing unrestricted through-trucks on Peekskill Hollow Road is to evade the traffic on Routes 6 and 9.
“There is no commercial destination on Peekskill Hollow Road, or even in Putnam Valley,” he said, noting that local deliveries are already exempt from the weight limit, for any size truck. “The only benefit to unrestricted through-trucks is to other municipalities, with Putnam Valley paying the price.”
Lusardi said that while Peekskill Hollow Road is a county road, the town has rights to challenge Pena’s decision.
“The commissioner does have authority under the Vehicle and Traffic Law to change the weight limit,” said Lusardi. “But that said, he has a couple of serious problems.”
The attorney said there is a set of standards maintained by the American Society of State Highway and Traffic Officials regarding truck safety, which Peekskill Hollow Road does not meet. And since it is declared a historic highway in Putnam County, widening or alteration of the “travel portion” of the roadway is limited, so it cannot be brought up to the current safety standards.
“There’s a political side to this whole thing, too,” added Lusardi. “While it’s Commissioner Pena (who is making the recommendation), Commissioner Pena is an appointed officer of the county, and so you really have to ask yourself… Is there somebody in county government who is advising Commissioner Pena to take this action?
“I do believe there is some pressure that may be brought to bear by another town in the county that may be behind all this,” said Lusardi.
He added that the best course of action would be to stop the weight limit from being rescinded, so the town wouldn’t have to take legal action.
“It is a county highway, we have to keep that in mind,” said Lusardi. “The county controls it to a great extent, (but) we have certain rights. But I think the best approach right now is to just stop the act.”
Mike Busman said the issue is not only a concern for residents like himself who live on the road, but all who use it. “Everyone here is well aware of the characteristics of Peekskill Hollow Road,” he said. “It’s narrow, it’s twisty, it has blind curves.”
Busman said he is concerned that if the weight limit is rescinded, the road will become a regular pathway for trucks as an alternative to the Taconic State Parkway or other roads they are not allowed on.
“Given the nature of Peekskill Hollow Road, heavy truck traffic poses a danger to small vehicles, bicyclists, joggers, pedestrians, and school buses that use it regularly,” he said.
Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio said he suspects there is pressure from other municipalities to reduce traffic along Route 6 by using Peekskill Hollow Road.
“Putnam Valley has nothing but our delis and a couple of restaurants, and I love our town for that,” he said. “We don’t need 18-wheel vehicles traveling here. There’s no destination. They’re going to Westchester.”
Resident Barbara Boughton agreed.
“I believe the situation is Route 6,” she said. “All the towns along Route 6 have allowed for all the building of all the shopping centers. They’ve increased the housing from Mahopac to Cortlandt 40 percent with condos and townhouses…They’ve created the situation, they need to figure it out for themselves,” said Boughton. “That’s not our problem.”
Councilwoman Jackie Annabi said the town will not be backing down on this issue.
“We’re not going down without a fight,” she said. “That’s the first and most important thing. Carmel and Mahopac, they like the box boxes (stores), they like all those big businesses, but we have to pay the price for it by having all the big trucks, and we’re not going to accept that.”
Oliverio said the town will use every resource possible to stop the weight limit from being lifted.
“We will fight it with every resource we have,” he said.