By ASHLEY HELMS
Motorists driving along Mamaroneck Avenue in the village may want to think twice before making a u-turn.
As of Jan. 13, the Board of Trustees approved the abolition of u-turns at the intersection of Knollwood and Soundview avenues heading southbound into the village on Mamaroneck Avenue, as well as northbound in the direction of White Plains.
The new law will take effect as soon as the village Department of Public Works puts up signs alerting drivers that u-turns are now illegal at that intersection, Village Manager Richard Slingerland said, but was unsure if the signs have been installed yet.
When heading away from the village toward White Plains on Mamaroneck Avenue, u-turns were already illegal due to limited sightlines; a driver couldn’t see if a vehicle is heading down the hill as easily in that direction, Slingerland said. The hill crests very close to the intersection of Knollwood and Mamaroneck avenues.
When heading on Mamaroneck Avenue toward the village, u-turns were allowed because a motorist was able to see much more clearly without obstructions. The hill slopes downward toward the village, but the village Traffic Commission decided it was safest to put an end to u-turns in both directions.
Slingerland said that he isn’t aware of any accidents occurring at the intersection due to u-turns, but the limited sight distance at the intersection is what caused the prohibition of u-turns in that area. He said the safest option is to turn onto a side street, turn around and come back the opposite way on Mamaroneck Avenue.
“The traffic commission, the chief [of police] and the mayor and Board of Trustees thought it was a good safety decision to eliminate u-turns in both directions,” Slingerland said.
If there was a major accident on Interstate 95—which has on and off ramps less than a mile from the intersection—or a flooding incident, Slingerland said emergency vehicles would legally be allowed to override a no u-turn law to respond to such an event.
Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said the issue was discussed in a Board of Trustees work session in November and it was decided the new driving provisions were a good idea.
“It was felt that this, in fact, was a dangerous situation and could improve safety by abolishing u-turns in both directions.” Rosenblum said.
According to Village of Mamaroneck Police Lt. Dominick Falcone, there were 165 summons issued for illegal u-turns in the village in 2013.
In the downtown business district area of Mamaroneck Avenue, u-turns are also illegal, Slingerland said.