Sprague Road traffic measures at a standstill
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Sprague Road traffic measures at a standstill

Feb 12, 2024

Sprague Road Alternative 2: Solutions being considered for traffic calming involve traffic circles, curb radii reductions and “chokers” or partial road closures.

Sprague Road, once a quiet, residential street, is now referred to as a racetrack by residents, with many drivers using Sprague as a shortcut to avoid stop signs and traffic lights on main routes. Although many residents expressed support for stop signs at previous meetings about traffic control measures, new research from FHI Studios and the village of Scarsdale reveals that Sprague Road doesn’t fit the criteria necessary for implementing stop signs. The FHI recommends two other alternatives that are viable, but unpopular with residents who argue that drastic changes will cause more harm than benefit.

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees held a work session to explain the new proposals and hear residents’ perspectives.

After years of receiving complaints about passenger traffic on Sprague, analyses were completed that illustrated that intersections on Sprague had elevated levels of accidents that exceeded what was observed in other parts of Scarsdale, according to Village Manager Robert Cole. This led to the village contracting FHI Studios to develop the Scarsdale Village Center Sprague Road Report, dated Oct. 28, 2022. The development of the three alternative plans, and the resulting report and recommendation, were discussed with the village trustees and the public at several meetings, which included presentations by FHI.

The first alternative included all-way stop signs and decorative speed bumps to slow down traffic. Scarsdale Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Coleman explained why this alternative is no longer being considered:

“The [New York] state criteria [required for implementing a stop sign] is five or more accidents that are correctable by a stop sign. If you had rear-end accidents, for example, on Sprague, and you put stop signs there, those are not correctable. The stop signs would lead to further rear-end accidents.”

Coleman described other consequences of implementing stop signs on Sprague:

“The decades of research that go into those standards suggests that the more stop signs you'd put in, the more likely it is that people ignore them and roll through them. When they roll through stop signs … people have an expectation that the other party will stop. Crash rates invariably increase.”

This leaves the two other alternatives suggested by FHI.

Alternative 2 proposes the installation of neighborhood traffic circles at Gaylor, Nelson, Bradley and White roads; installation of a choker east of Bell Road and east of Madison Road; and curb radii reductions at Bell, Webster, Lyons, Madison and Johnson roads.

Alternative 3 proposes the installation of neighborhood traffic circles at Gaylor and White roads; installation of curb radii reductions at Bell, Webster, Lyons, Bradley and Johnson roads; and installation of half closures at Nelson Road and Madison Road, thereby prohibiting through travel along Sprague Road at both locations.

Sprague Road Alternative 3...

According to Coleman, the FHI consultant felt that Alternative 3 was the safest solution. Coleman explained the advantage and disadvantage of this option.

“Traffic calming in general is a balance between inconvenience, driver discomfort and benefit. The greatest benefit would be provided by Alternative 3 if your definition of benefit is less traffic on the road, and that certainly would result in [that]. It would seek other routes,” he said. “In terms of inconvenience, that's probably the most inconvenient in terms of the residents that live there. They would have to get used to traveling to and from their home using a different manner.”

The trustees opened the floor for comment from residents, either in person or virtually. Many of the residents described their concerns with Alternatives 2 and 3, and expressed their preference for a plan like Alternative 1.

Howard Silverberg of Sprague Road argued that Alternatives 2 and 3 were too restrictive:

“We have sanitation [and] residents, we have police, we have fire deliveries, ambulances all going through the streets, I think it's just going to create congestion … Restricting what people can use the roads for is going to change the dynamic. It may be successful, but I think the best thing to do is to just try and slow the traffic down in the existing patterns.”

Another resident also criticized a restrictive aspect of the plans:

“We already have chokers. They're called parked cars. And people are not patient when they're waiting to pass your car. We've had cars sideswiped. I don't think a choker is a great idea because ample street parking is a huge benefit in this neighborhood. You're going to deprive many of our neighbors’ ability to park in front of their own houses.”

Many residents brought up traffic diversion as a concern, which village officials acknowledged as a temporary consequence of Alternatives 2 and 3. Coleman explained how people’s driving habits will change as they get used to the new traffic control measures on Sprague:

“Traffic is going to achieve its natural balance, when you create an obstacle or change the traffic, [you] forcibly change the pattern of traffic on this road. To the degree that it’s repeat traffic — traffic that travels here, every day, or multiple times a week … they'll learn pretty quickly what their next best route is. Similarly, folks who live in this area are also going to change their traffic patterns. Somebody who may shoot down Webster and then go across through the intersection and Nelson to get towards Lyons may change their traffic pattern in the opposite direction, too. It's going to take a little while for traffic to achieve its natural balance. People will take the route that they feel is most comfortable, and they'll take the route that they feel is the fastest.”

Residents also expressed concern for the potentially dangerous consequences of putting obstacles on a street where people currently speed through. Nelson Road resident Anne Marie Nee described a problem with placing a traffic rotary on the intersection of Gaylor and Sprague roads.

“People will swerve around it. Eastchester School bus stops at the end of Sprague Road, comes up, and makes the right toward Eastchester. Will that bus be able to negotiate the turn?” she said. “The Scarsdale Middle School bus stop is on the southeast corner of Gaylor and Sprague. Ten to 15 students [are] on that corner every morning. You're going to have an obstacle in the middle of the road that a car has to turn around in [the students’] direction next to a telephone pole. It seems very dangerous to me.”

The most common theme throughout the residents' comments was a preference for stop signs. Some residents compared Sprague Road to Locust Avenue, which has a stop sign at every intersection. Locust is two streets over from Sprague but under the jurisdiction of Eastchester. However, Cole explained how increased stop signs may not necessarily be the solution, referencing a study comparing crash rates in Eastchester to Scarsdale.

“We looked at Eastchester as a whole because Eastchester does have a proliferation of stop signs on many of their streets. Locust is not unique in that regard. We compared a dense stop sign community, being Eastchester, to Scarsdale, where we comply with the standards that the FHWA and the New York State DOT recommend …” he said. “Suffice it to say [Eastchester has] a very high density of stop signs, [but] the traffic safety as presented by crash rates is much higher in Eastchester. We'd have to look at Locust and see if it stands out as an individual street or not. But Eastchester generally has higher stop sign density and a substantially higher crash rate than Scarsdale.”

Besides stop signs, residents recommended researching traffic control measures that are less costly and transformative.

“There are other alternatives less draconian, such as speed bumps, enforcement, speed cameras,” Lyons Road resident Alan Stuart said.

Linda Killian, a longtime Edgewood resident, echoed this sentiment.

“I would urge you to try to find a solution that works — like stop signs, like enforcement, like the speeding lights that are on Drake, but not on Sprague,” she said. “Look for solutions that work, not for solutions for innovative things or [solutions] you think that are innovative that are transformative. Let's find something that will work and keep people safe.”

Deputy Mayor Randy Whitestone closed out the meeting with his own comments.

“My view is this is a continuing conversation … I'm happy to share my personal experiences on Sprague. I've lived there for 28 years. I've raised two children there. I am in favor of either [Alternative] 2 or 3 because I think they're based on data and research and professional experience, but this is a community conversation.”

The village board plans to conduct further research and reconvene at a later date.

Tonight is the first night in 21 years that I’m spending in the Town of Mamaroneck in the Mamaroneck Strip where we’ve moved to a fantastic rental house overlooking one of the fairways on the West Course of Winged Foot. I already have discovered that I can actually see when I walked my dogs tonite because the Town of Mamaroneck uses “too bright” LED street lights that Scarsdale rejected as environmentally unfriendly (because they actually illuminate the street so that pedestrians don’t walk into Scarsdale’s potholes and street crevices only to disappear forever). A few years ago, I joined Sprague Road residents in asking that the Village install a number of stop signs to “calm” the dangerous speeders racing down Sprague. This is a problem that these residents have complained about literally for years, with the Village leaders always sounding sympathetic but doing nothing. They always reject adding stop signs as even more dangerous and counter-productive citing decades of research from elsewhere. Besides that, they’ve done nothing. Now they’ve hired these fancy expensive expensive who’ve taken a year to come up with complex untested expensive and bizarre proposals which the residents uniformly reject. All the residents have ever wanted is a couple of stinking inexpensive stop signs. Give them what they want and see what happens. It’s a cheap test. If it works - great. If it doesn’t, try something else. This is why the Village of Scarsdale has the most ineffective, wasteful, and dysfunctional government imaginable. I tried my best to Fox it while I was a resident. Sadly, most residents don’t care enough to change an undemocratic system that delivers mediocrity at the hoghest cost. Listen to the residents. Follow the KISS system of governance. May you find success.


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Cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 66F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph..

Cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 66F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.

Updated: August 4, 2023 @ 7:45 pm

Robert BergKeep it Clean.PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.Don't Threaten.Be Truthful.Be Nice.Be Proactive.Share with Us.