WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- In a recent letter to New York state Thruway acting Director Robert Megna, Sen. George Latimer, D-Westchester, asked for the current status of the long-overdue “Last Mile” Thruway reconstruction project that would cover the one-mile stretch from Exit 22 at Midland Avenue north to the Byram River Bridge that leads into Connecticut.
The project was originally part of a full reconstruction of the New England section of the Thruway, begun in the 1990s, that rebuilt the roadbed, added sound barriers to protect residential neighbors and reconstructed bridge overpasses of local roads from the Bronx border to Rye.
With great fanfare, the Thruway Authority announced plans to start the project in 2004-05; the authority held public meetings for press and residents’ input and met with local elected officials to deal with issues such as rerouting traffic and placement of work staging areas.
The Last Mile project involved the reconstruction of the Interstate 287 access ramp into northbound Interstate 95 – a very dangerous spot; reconstruction of the Grace Church Street Bridge; long-needed sound barriers alongside Gray Rock North and other affected neighborhoods; and a full redo of the roadway.
“There were charts and renderings of the work contemplated,” said Latimer, who was then a Westchester County legislator, “and a vigorous community discussion. And then, nothing. For a decade.”
Latimer surmises the need to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge may have reallocated resources set aside for the Last Mile, but no formal announcement has ever been made. Now, with a new team of managers and leaders in place at the Thruway Authority after a recent shake-up, Latimer wants the community to know what the status is.
“The neighbors are still enduring noise," he said. "The roadbed – which is being fixed again along the other mileposts on the Thruway from their 1990s upgrade – is worse than ever. The potential for fatal accidents in the transition from I-287 to I-95 remains high. This is a necessary, important public improvement project.”
The senator said he hopes the Thruway Authority will re-engage in a dialogue with local governments and residents to restart the clock on the Last Mile.
"Especially in light of Connecticut’s plans to reinstitute tolls at the Connecticut-New York border, the project is urgently needed,” he said.