PURDYS, N.Y. – Dangers to pedestrians going to and from the Purdys Metro-North station are increasing exponentially as the days get shorter and the threat of icy roads approaches.
The staircase customarily used by travelers to and from the east side of the tracks was closed without notice in June, because of its “deteriorated condition,” said Metro-North Railroad spokesperson Marjorie Anders.
Now commuters must walk along Route 116 to reach the station from the west. There is no sidewalk, nor is the road lit at night.
Correspondence between North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Mark Mannix, supplemented by personal letters and emails from commuters, began in late June and continues.
“The MTA so far has not answered any of our questions,” Lucas said. “They say they did a survey in June and decided there aren’t enough people using the stairs to justify replacement.” Lucas said that is probably because the MTA allowed the stairs to deteriorate so much that people felt unsafe using them.
Mannix has explained that by law a new staircase, no matter where it was located, would require an elevator as well. The cost would be beyond available funding. Mannix said alternatives, such as an extended sidewalk, are under consideration. As of now, no decision has been made.
“The situation is clearly dangerous,” said Purdys resident Chris Brockmeyer, a former North Salem Town Board member who has been very active in the staircase campaign. “Warren [Lucas] has been terrific turning up the heat on the MTA. People have been writing letters, too, but local residents aren’t getting any responses.
“I hear they’re considering extending the sidewalk along 116 and connecting it to the parking lot. That means we walk a further 200 or 300 yards. It takes almost twice as long. A longer walk actually encourages people to drive back and forth, so it just about doubles the traffic. Not awfully good for the environment.”
Lucas has pointed out to Mannix that the nursing homes along Route 22 employ more than 300 people, most of whom arrive and leave by train from the Purdys station.
Lucas also stressed the vulnerability of pedestrians in rural areas. “We just had a person get critically injured at the Croton Falls train station,” Lucas said.
As a temporary measure, some commuters have created a path down the steep and rocky hillside. In a letter to Mannix, Purdys resident Jennifer Bieber wrote, “While the path has proven passable during the fair weather months, it is clear that this path will post a tremendous hazard to life and limb come winter.”