Report recommends traffic signal at Fort Hill and Ardsley roads

Long delays and queues are problematic at the intersection.

A preliminary traffic study by Hawthorne-based traffic consultant Provident Design Engineering — a consultant firm hired by the town of Greenburgh — has found that converting the Fort Hill and Ardsley roads intersection from a four-way stop to a signalized traffic stop would be the most beneficial improvement for pedestrian safety and traffic flow.

Ardsley Road is a major thoroughfare for commuters driving west from Central Park Avenue, with Fort Hill Road commonly traveled by drivers traveling from the Jackson Avenue exit off the Sprain Brook Parkway, some of whom use the road to bypass Central Avenue. Bee-Line buses also travel east and west on Ardsley Road, with some stopping at a bus stop near the southeast corner of the intersection.

According to the 105-page report dated July 2 and released by the town on Aug. 5, installing a signalized light at the four-lane intersection would significantly cut delays and limit the hindrance of vegetation and fences blocking the sight lines of drivers.

Noting that long delays and queues are problematic at the intersection, the study’s preparers, senior project manager Brian Dempsey and traffic engineer Brian Haggarty wrote, “A disadvantage of four-way stops is that they can cause confusion for drivers on what vehicle should go first.”

According to data gathered by the consultant, the intersection experiences the heaviest congestion every morning from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m., every night from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Within those peak hours, each vehicle traveling through the intersection will experience 82 seconds of delay in the morning, 162.5 seconds at night and 112.3 seconds on Saturdays. Adding a traffic light would cut delay times in the morning by 90%, in the evening by 94% and on Saturdays by 93%.

“The results show that the intersection’s level of service and delay drastically improved,” wrote Dempsey and Haggarty.

Confusion has also played a role in delays at the four-way stop, as some drivers are unaware of which vehicle has the right of way. The situation is only exacerbated when a pedestrian is present — with no crosswalks and inadequate sidewalks, foot traffic at the intersection is problematic.

“We’re definitely trying to improve that intersection for safety of pedestrians and for flow of vehicles,” said Greenburgh Public Works Commissioner Victor Carosi, adding, “It’s a draft report and will be discussed with the community.”

Residents met with Carosi, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, Dempsey and Greenburgh Police Sergeant of traffic and safety Nick Reckson at the Greenville School in April to discuss viable options for the intersection.

“The town is trying to figure out options and will not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something the local community does not want,” said Southern Greenville Civic Association co-president Gary Stern. “I am open to listening and trying to help agree on the best solution for the neighborhood.”

Although plans for improvements have not been finalized, the town has allocated $275,000 for improvements at the site with revisions possible in the future, according to Carosi.

Provident Design Engineering estimated the installation of a traffic signal would cost between $200,000 and $275,000, plus $345,000 for sidewalk and curb improvements.

“This is not an insignificant project, by the time it’s all said and done we’re talking about $600,000,” said Edgemont resident Colin McCarthy. “It kind of came out of nowhere.”

McCarthy, who lives on Pheasant Run, travels through the intersection at least twice a day and has concerns about whether the proposed measures in the traffic study would actually improve the intersection, concerns he raised in a Nextdoor blog post, which now has more than 50 comments.

“I wanted to make sure people are having their concerns addressed,” he told the Inquirer.

McCarthy believes a stoplight could result in drivers speeding through the intersection, which in turn could increase the likelihood of accidents.

According to the Greenburgh Police Department there were 50 accidents at the intersection between June 19, 2016 and June 19, 2019, with injuries reported at about 20% of the accidents. His data showed approximately 63% of cars were travelling faster than the posted 30 mph speed limit, with 9% traveling faster than 38 mph. Provident Design Engineering found similar speed measurements in its analysis.

In order to reduce speeds, the traffic consultant recommended the inclusion of speed bumps, raised crosswalks or curb extensions.

McCarthy, who has lived in Edgemont for more than seven years, would like to increase sightlines at the intersection by cutting back bushes and moving fences to resolve issues without committing funds for a traffic signal.

“Give people better sight lines and let’s see what that does to the accident rate,” said McCarthy.

Dempsey told the Inquirer that cutting back shrubbery and relocating fences in hopes of improving sightlines would “have a limited impact on a four way stop.”

McCarthy is also concerned about traffic building up with drivers attempting to make left hand turns at the intersection.

“If someone makes a left and it’s a one lane road … what’s supposed to happen to everyone else in that situation?,” asked McCarthy. “If you put in a left hand turn signal then all of a sudden you have three of the four lanes stopped.”

Dempsey said that consideration for a left hand turn signal would be included in the second phase of the traffic signalization project if the town moved to approve it.

“Based upon the initial analysis left hand turn arrows would not be needed,” said Dempsey. “We did look at left turn lanes … the problem is the right of way is too narrow to fit them in properly.”

Without left hand turn signals the intersection would work as a two-phase signal.

“It is something that would be looked at during the next phase of the project,” said Dempsey.

In the past, the town commissioned traffic studies through the Greenburgh Police Department, but it has since transferred that work to traffic consultants. Both Feiner and Carosi confirmed they had heard about reports issued by previous police chiefs dismissing the proposal for a stoplight at the Fort Hill and Ardsley roads intersection.

“I personally have never seen the report,” said Carosi, who added that the town is now moving to be more engineering-centric.

“The Ardsley Road and Fort Hill Road intersection may have been looked at by a prior police administration, but I do not believe it was studied by a professional traffic engineer before,” said Greenburgh police Chief Chris McNerney. “We want to improve traffic and safety at this intersection and it is our position that a professional traffic engineer is best qualified to consider all options.”

A public meeting to discuss the draft traffic study will be scheduled in September, according to Carosi. The town intends to move ahead with the recommendations from the final traffic study next year.

“We’re very concerned about making sure anything we implement is done properly and safely in accordance with all regulations,” said Carosi.

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