As Port Chester Super-Sizes, Traffic Safety Issues Come to a Head in Byram

At the July 8 Board of Selectmen meeting a presentation from Byram Neighborhood Association’s Joe Kantorski focused on residents’ concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety.

The densely populated neighborhood features many families who walk their children to and from New Lebanon School,

Byram is located just over the Mill Street Bridge from Port Chester, NY, where Main Street is being redeveloped with multi-story apartment buildings.

After being rejected more than once, a controversial mixed use development, “Tarry Lighthouse,” was approved by the Port Chester Planning Commission at the corner of North Main Street and Mill Street. After being rejected for a taller building, the application was approved for six-stories, including above ground parking (rather than below ground because the development is in a flood zone.) In the Port Chester Dine & Design building on North Main Street, Tarry Lodge closed in 2019. Recently Redi-Cut Carpets and Tandoori Taste of India relocated. Acuario has closed.

Main Street (US 1) in Port Chester, opposite the river from Byram, is being redeveloped with multi-story residential buildings. There are already two construction projects underway at the three way intersection of Westchester Avenue, South Main Street and North Main Street. July 12, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
Looking toward Byram from Port Chester. Sept 4, 2019 Photo: Leslie Yager
Traffic on the Mill Street Bridge that connects Byram to Port Chester, NY. Photo: Leslie Yager

The closest access to I-95 for the residents who will populate hundreds if not thousands of the new units in Port Chester is via Mill Street Bridge to Delavan Ave in Byram. That will be in addition to existing traffic, including trucks, that funnel through Byram to access Exit 2 daily.

At the same time, I-95 is due for a multi-year upgrade project that may mean traffic through local streets. Residents chimed in during a DOT hearing with concerns about impacts to Byram, including loss of trees and additional noise.

Kantorski shared a photo of a recent crash on Mead Ave, a stone’s throw from New Lebanon School.

“It caused quite a stir. It is very indicative of the kinds of dangers we’re experiencing down here, largely due to speed and people running stop lights,” he said adding that a witness estimated the vehicle in the crash had been traveling between 40 and 50 mph in the 25 mph zone.

Kantorski said the speeding was not a one-off and that the crash was just one of several recent crashes in Byram.

June 2021 crash on Mead Ave in Byram, a stone’s throw from New Lebanon School, led to drug arrests. Photo: Alex Popp
18 – 20 South Main Street is another proposed development site for multi-story mixed use retail and residential. July 12, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

Kantorski said BNA’s Parking & Traffic committee, chaired by Brian O’Connor, is conducting a petition demanding safer streets. At the three week mark, the petition, which is open ended, had for three weeks and had 190 responses, with many citing concerns about speeding cars.

The petition can be found here:

Some of the petition responses:

“Crossing Delavan at Chestnut and Veterans Way is to flirt with death.”

“Bad driving habits, speeding, running red lights, blowing through stop signs.”

“North Water Street has turned into a super speedway.”

“Children going to and from Western (Middle School) and the GHS bus stop from the west side of the road jay walk because the crosswalks are too far apart.”

“Don’t get me started about Rte 1 and Byram Rd, speeding on Delavan, Byram Shore, Mead Ave, North and South Water Street, Byram Rd and Western Junior Highway.”

Kantorski said Byram has a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries, cyclist injuries and total crashes given Byram comprises just 1.3% of the town’s overall area.

He said the BNA is planning a campaign called “Drive 25.”

Selectwoman Lauren Rabin, who previously lived in Byram, said she strongly agreed with the need for enforcement.

“I think you’ve been asking for that for quite some time,” she said. “One thing I’ve noted is that on Delavan Ave it says, ‘No Through Trucks,’ yet the tractor trailers are going back and forth. That street is barely wide enough to have one tractor trailer in one direction, let alone two at the same time. Enforcement is an important component.”

“I don’t think you’re asking for anything that isn’t somewhere else in town,” she said, noting that there is a flashing light on Riversville Rd in front of Glenville School.

Kantorski suggested some “fixes” were possible before school resumes in the fall.

Summary of the suggestions of the Byram Neighborhood Association to address their concerns about speeding, traffic and pedestrian safety.

He suggested increasing visibility at key pedestrian crosswalks. And, he said, “I don’t see any reason why at least the broad striping shouldn’t happen.”

He suggested “judicious pruning” of greenery that is obstructing signage, adding speed humps, posting speed limits and having flashers at intersections.

“And then the magic word, ‘Enforcement.’ This is a tough one, but it’s absolutely essential,” he continued. “A random police car sitting there in the morning when kids are going to school – the random fact that people see a police car there is a good thing to start with.”

First Selectman Camillo suggested meeting with the BNA next week to start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ and then move on to a traffic calming plan.

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Intersection of Mead, Mill and Delavan Ave in Byram is heavily trafficked with cars and pedestrians. Photo: Leslie Yager

“This is not unique to Byram – the speeding and distracted driving,” Camillo said, adding that he previously lived on Church Street West in Byram and had some ideas of his own.

Camillo added that he had a meeting scheduled with the new Mayor of Port Chester, Luis Marino, and would share a debrief afterward. He mentioned there had been a recent public hearing in Old Greenwich, where a plan is now in the works that includes many of the suggestions from the BNA.

He said he would also reach out to residents of Chickahominy for a list of suggested improvements for public safety and aesthetics there.

This article has been updated to reflect that the Byram Neighborhood Association’s petition is ongoing:

New signage directing traffic to I-95 in CT from Port Chester North Main Street. Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

DOT Hearing on 6.6 Miles of I-95 Improvements: Yes to Tree Clearing, No to Sound Barriers, No to Noise and Air Quality Analyses, 3-4 Years to Complete

Jan 24, 2021

Greenwich Residents Rail Against Port Chester Multi Story Apartment Building

Dec 20, 2019

Port Chester Planning Commission: ‘Pump the Brakes’ on 9-Story Tarry Lighthouse

Oct 1, 2019

Port Chester ZBA Considers Tarry Lighthouse. “Folks Like Village’s Rusty, Dusty Form”

Feb 23, 2020

Old Greenwich Merchants to Town: Increase Parking Enforcement

April 26, 2021