CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Cortlandt officials are reiterating their commitment to having a median installed on the Bear Mountain State Parkway by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), after a second deadly head-on collision in seven months.
"I mean, it's just outrageous," said Cortlandt Town Supervisor, Linda Puglisi at a town board work session, on July 9. "They have to take action. We're not going to give up. We had another fatality," she said, referring to the death of James Parker, 47, of the Bronx, N.Y.
The head-on collision occurred Sunday, July 8, when Parker crossed over the high-speed winding roadway's double yellow line and struck a Chrysler Town and Country minivan. The two occupants of the minivan were transported to Westchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
Less than two weeks before Parker’s death, Puglisi and the parents of a fatally wounded Peekskill man held a press conference before sending 1,500 signatures to the commissioner of the DOT, asking for the installation of a median barrier down the center of the highway.
"People are losing their lives just because the state says it's not in the budget. I just don't understand it," said Carole Wilson, LaMarr Barnes' mother. The 27-year-old was killed in a head-on collision in December. Wilson pointed out that just days after a minivan careened off the Bronx River Parkway, killing a family of seven inside, DOT installed new safety barriers on the shoulders of the road.
"I mean, I feel for the family members who lost their family, but how is their family more important that mine?" Wilson asked.
Cortlandt has been sending resolutions and letters to the DOT for years asking for the barrier project, and the cause recently attracted the attention of Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining). Galef sent a letter to the commissioner of the DOT, Joan McDonald, asking that a median barrier be installed, and that a list of serious projects to improve safety and a timeline be sent to her.
Galef called the condition "a continuing and serious concern," writing, "Ways to improve safety on this part of the Bear Mountain parkway in Cortlandt have been discussed for many years, yet no final solution has yet been provided. Recently, a young man was killed on this stretch of highway which has once again rightfully raised ire from local municipal officials as well as my constituents in Cortlandt."
Beside the Parker crash Sunday night, and the December collision that killed Barnes, there was also a near head-on collision in March, which sent two people to the hospital, one in critical condition with a fractured pelvis, femur, pulmonary contusions and a head injury. Additionally, a New York City many had to wait months to be arraigned after his involvement in a September 2011 head-on collision, because of an extended hospital stay.
For the entire year of 2011, one fatal crash was reported to the DOT, 30 injuries in which a person was injured were reported, 29 vehicles were in accidents which caused property damage only, and there were a total of 69 accidents reported on the Bear Mountain State Parkway between the interchanges of Route 9 and the intersection of Route 202 and Route 35 at the end of the extension.