Two engineering firms presented concepts for how to improve downtown Chappaqua during a recent New Castle Town Board work session.
The companies responded to a request for proposals (RFP) from the town and came with plans to improve infrastructure and streetscapes, hoping to be selected.
The first company to present at the work session, held Nov. 6, was WSP, which is located near by in Briarcliff Manor. David Weiss, a representative from the company, touted the fact that it has employees of varying specialties – he remarked that everyone is “under one roof” – and its close location. He also noted that the WSP has done similar projects and has a record of coming in under budget.
WSP’s team went through existing problems that the hamlet has, including worn pavement to traffic back-up during peak activity. The scope of its review includes North Greeley Avenue, South Greeley Avenue and King Street.
The WSP proposal, which is in the conceptual phase, was fairly detailed. It calls for eliminating left-hand exit turns from Woodburn onto South Greeley Avenue during peak evening time and instead diverting the traffic to Washington Avenue, where it would then turn onto the main road.
Notably, the intersection of King Street, South Greeley Avenue and North Greeley Avenue would become an “all-stop” intersection, with drivers having to stop once they come down the King Street hill. The intersection would also lose its right-turn slip lane, which would be filled in, and would become a “T” intersection. To make up for the removal of the slip lane, and extra lane would be added to the northbound side of South Greeley Avenue. The intersection would also get stamped concrete pavement and stamped concrete crosswalks, with a fourth crosswalk added so people can cross South Greeley.
The project also calls for bump-out spaces, which have the effect of calming traffic, at the intersection of South Greeley and Senter Street, and at the corner of King Street and North Greeley Avenue. On the infrastructure side, WSP described assessing water and sewer operations, along with some water main replacement and sewer repair. Additionally, it includes adding a water fountain on the triangle at the intersection of South Greeley and the Route 120 bridge.
The company also addressed disruption to the business community, suggesting measures ranging from use of a precast concrete driveway apron to doing test pits to avoid conflicts with utilities.
The second firm to present was VHB, which has a presence in White Plains. A representative touted its assortment of services, including civil engineering and landscape architecture, noting that everything is under one roof and it is a “coordinated and efficient approach.”
Its presentation promoted pedestrian safety, walkability and lighting. Among the principals stated for street usage, were that pedestrians will cross at convenient spaces, that narrow streets can calm traffic and that crossings should be short.
Matthew Carmody, a VHB representative, discussed taking a “complete” streets approach, which involves involving the area from building to building and taking what is called a zonal approach. The firm would do simulation for traffic and phase construction to help merchants.
A concept presented by VHB also shows improving the intersection of South Greeley Avenue, North Greeley Avenue and King Street. It also includes filling in the slip lane but does not add a new right-hand turn to replace it. A fountain would be placed in the plaza area created by eliminating the slip lane, while marked crosswalks would be in all four directions at the intersection.
The proposals are of the town board’s latest effort to improve the aesthetics of the downtown. Previous studies included the 2003 Vollmer Associates Report, a 2007 report from Project for Public Spaces and a 2008 conceptual project from Pouder Design Group. Details on previous work are available on the town’s website at this link.
One conceptual overview – it was called the Chappaqua Hamlet Vision Plan – included two projects that have since been completed, such as construction of a new gazebo and a reconstruction of the South Greeley Avenue parking lot in 2011. It also included doing work in the area currently under consideration.