“How did it get so late so soon?” — Dr. Seuss

“The street looked different years ago, before you were born,” she said to her granddaughter. “About that time they were building a bridge, too.”

Eastbound on I-287 approaching Exit 5 ramp to White Plains

Eastbound on I-287 approaching Exit 5 ramp to White Plains

Years from now, imagine a similar scene playing out in different households. Kids asking their parents or grandparents about “the old neighborhood.” What will they say?

Like the gopher that weaves trails through the golf course, I imagine both counties undergoing mass bus rapid transit (BRT) construction for those seven new routes. And while they will be supported by the $20 million designated in the 2014-2015 State Budget, there are several unknowns.

Intersection of Route 119 and bottom of I-287 Exit 5 ramp

Intersection of Route 119 and bottom of I-287 Exit 5 ramp

Where will stops be for each route? How about land use: what if a store is where a BRT stop is planned? What will the buses and bus stops look like? What will the road look like?

The transit task force did its job, and made extensive recommendations that include an I-287 corridor study in Westchester and Rockland Counties to reserve space for future transit and transportation needs.

And when State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District) asked at the final transit meeting, “Who will take the initiative to make sure the recommendations will move forward?” State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald replied, “Our charge was to make recommendations. It’s up to the governor and the Thruway Authority to see what are the next steps.”

Eastbound on Route 119 in White Plains. Left is the Bronx River Parkway; right is Central Avenue, proposed for BRT

Eastbound on Route 119 in White Plains. Left is the Bronx River Parkway; right is Central Avenue, proposed for BRT

Which agency will oversee the project, and will it face penalties if the BRT system isn’t ready when the new bridge opens in 2018? What’s the best balance to lessen the impact on neighborhoods? The bridge replacement project has mitigations in place for surrounding communities; can the same be said for preparatory BRT construction?

Until we know the agency-in-charge, we won’t know.

Let’s say we have an agency, which sets guidelines. And then? Some aggressive changes for the next five years, such as, “Simple legible routing.” That includes new signage. What happens during the crossover of current system to new?

I hope the new agency also has checkpoints, midpoints, and overall goals. While BRT will be on the bridge when it opens in 2018, it’s rumored that at least one BRT route must be in place by 2018. Which one, and where?

TimeQuote4

Suppose a street needs widening, or land acquired? Local boards will have a say, and since the clock ticking for 2018’s target date now includes a BRT deadline, the longer we wait to begin, the greater the risk of rushing to meet the not-so-far-off 2018.

Let’s hope we can keep the character of our neighborhoods while achieving the economic benefits and convenience of BRT. Time will tell.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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