By PHIL NOBILE
After many years of bumps and bruises to Halstead Avenue, travelers and their vehicles, the main thoroughfare in Harrison’s downtown district will see repaving and repairs if the county’s proposed capital projects budget remains as written.
According to the 2014 budget, almost one mile of the county-owned roadway from the Mamaroneck Village border to Haviland Street in downtown Harrison will receive resurfacing, new curbing, drainage and crack repairs. Minor bus stop improvements and new pavement markings are expected as well.
County Legislator David Gelfarb, a Rye Brook Republican, described the project as vital for the outlook of Harrison’s future downtown developments.
“It’s important because Halstead is the gateway into the town,” Gelfarb said. “We want the gateway to be appealing and attractive to both residents and visitors. It’s important for the retail environment as it becomes more inviting for new stores to come in.”
The total project cost is projected at $1.65 million dollars and is expected to be funded through the issuance of bonds. Although there is no guarantee the project will begin in 2014, Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, expects it to begin in the upcoming year, and looks forward to the “facelift” for the town.
“It’s going to come a lot sooner than the bigger projects, so it’ll be nice to have smooth service on the main drag,” Belmont said. “It’ll be a lot smoother sailing once it’s done.”
The strip received an average Pavement Condition Index, PCI, of 66 based on numbers taken in 2010 by the county. A PCI rating between 41 and 70 falls under the category of needing “structural rehabilitation.” Studies by the county show the annual average daily traffic on the one-mile strip is 11,686 vehicles.
For years, town representatives and residents alike have expressed desire to repair the county-owned road connecting the town and other municipalities in the area. According to Belmont, it took having county elected officials see the conditions firsthand during events like parades to get the point across.
“We took pictures, gave phone calls and, during our annual parades, we walked beside them and they saw the need to get that repaved,” Belmont said.
The project is described by the county as consistent with Westchester 2025, an online, cost-cutting initiative by Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to expedite the early stages of planning between local municipalities and the county. The website emphasizes transportation infrastructure with an eye toward expediting the planning processes so plans that get “bogged down” during the information gathering stages will pass through more efficiently.
Harrison resident Frank Gordon, 53, was pleased with the news and thanked the Town Council during its Dec. 5 meeting for “bringing the project to fruition.”
“Residents have requested the repaving of Halstead Avenue many times at town board meetings,” Gordon said. “It seemed to be generally accepted that the condition of that road was dangerous and an eyesore. And it was also thought that its condition may have discouraged out-of-town shoppers.”
Gordon expressed the need for further downtown development to follow suit with the proposed street fixes.
“The repair of Halstead represents just one facet of a larger issue that needs more focus by local government: Improving the quality of life for Harrison residents,” he said. “As real estate prices are expected to continue to rise in Harrison, so too must the quality of life here.”
For the Halstead project to begin, it must go before the Westchester County Board of Legislators as a bond proposal by the county executive. Once it passes, work on the project can then commence. Proposals go before the board “when they’re ready,” according to county Deputy Communications Director Donna Greene, who cited the design and planning process of each proposed project.
Also in the county capital projects list is the rehabilitation of Highland Road in Purchase. The 0.4 miles from East Purchase Street to the Rye Town border is expected to receive similar treatment as Halstead Avenue and has a projected price tag of $970,000.