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Firm Unveils Overhaul Plan For Downtown Chappaqua

A screen shot of WSP's presentation for overhauling downtown Chappaqua.
A screen shot of WSP's presentation for overhauling downtown Chappaqua. Photo Credit: WSP/Screen shot

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The planning firm hired by the Town of New Castle to explore revamping downtown Chappaqua has released a preliminary plan detailing major overhaul measures.

The firm, WSP, presented its findings at the Town Board's meeting on March 10. The proposal, called the Hamlet of Chappaqua Improvement Project, includes a number of infrastructure and streetscape improvements.

Notable above-ground changes include repaving and adding new sidewalks; replacing the slip-lane at the intersection of King Street and South Greeley Avenue with a dedicated right turn lane, along with using the reclaimed land for pedestrian space; moving parking on lower King Street from the northern side to the southern side to help fix an alignment issue with oncoming traffic; adding pedestrian space and a crosswalk to the King and Senter streets intersection; and adding a crosswalk for the portion of King Street that is near Starbucks.

Other potential measures include rerouting traffic at the triangle by Route 120 and South Greeley. Robert Severance, a project manager for WSP, explained that this would mean moving from a bidirectional pattern, meaning each lane pair has vehicles in two opposite directions, to a single direction, where the pairs of lanes would have vehicular flow in the same direction. The effect of this, according to Severance, would be turning the triangle into something like a traffic circle.

“It provides time to blend the traffic in as well," Severance said.

Partial or full burials of power lines are also options on the table.

Below ground, WSP proposes fixing aging infrastructure with new storm-drainage pipes to resolve a capacity crunch, a new sewer line to help with capacity and a water main replacement. Potential detention space for stormwater is also considered.

Severance also noted two temporary measures for downtown. They involve a stop sign at the bottom of the hill for King and South Greeley -- Severance noted that drivers stop at the intersection already despite no signage present -- and banning left-hand turns from Woodburn Avenue onto South Greeley. The latter measure, which could either be just for evening rush hour or at all times, is intended to help with traffic queuing, Severance explained. Vehicles would then have to come out from Washington Avenue.

Board members did not explicitly embrace WSP's proposals, nor did they reject them.

Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein, however, wondered about the potential for fender-benders due to longer trips within the train station parking space before exiting onto Washington. The supervisor also wondered about the possibility of removing parking entirely from lower King Street. Severance explained that the scenario has been looked into but that businesses there might not be favorable to it.

Severance also confirmed that adding traffic lights to downtown could be added in as a model, in response to a question from Greenstein.

Greenstein also encouraged Severance not to feel like his firm's hands are tied in terms of coming up with ideas, to which he agreed.

A work session for the board is planned in April for members to offer input, Sabrina Charney Hull, the town's planning director, explained at the meeting.

A copy of WSP's presentation is here.

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