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Traffic Consultants Present 'Synchro Analysis' of Major Intersections Near Rivertowns Square

Many residents still skeptical.

When John Meyer Consulting Principal Richard Pearson told residents Monday night that their analyses revealed that Beacon Hill Drive could accomodate the added traffic from the proposed , there was audible laughter from the residents in attendance.

Pearson and fellow company principal Jim Ryan came to Dobbs Ferry's for the second of three public hearings on Rivertowns Square Monday night to present their analyses of 10 of the more than 30 major intersections developers Saber Dobbs Ferry LLC and Lincoln Dobbs Ferry hired them to assess for the impacts of the proposed shopping center and apartment complex on local traffic.

The analyses shown were done on a weekday afternoon and a Saturday afternoon. "Stores won't open until around 10 a.m., so the added traffic from the development should not affect school buses and the morning rush," Pearson said.

Remember the once popular computer game SimCity—in which kids, and adults after their kids had gone to bed—sat for hours creating fictitious cities complete with buildings, parks and streets?

"The electronic Synchro analysis we'll show tonight was actually based off of that technology," said Ryan, as he set up his computer and projector screen before the meeting. "We reviewed the intersections identified by the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees as outlined in the scoping document—that includes both state and local roadways."

Pearson and Ryan came prepared to present 10 major intersections, though time before the public hearing allowed them to show residents electronic simulations of only five: Lawrence Street and the Saw Mill River Parkway, Ashford Avenue and Washington Avenue, Beacon Hill Drive and Ashford Avenue, Beacon Hill Drive and Ogden Avenue and Ogden Avenue and Ashford Avenue.

The Synchro presentation juxtaposed current traffic at a certain time in the afternoon (on both a weekday and a Saturday) and "build" traffic once the proposed development is up and running—both on the same screen—so that residents could see the cars and trucks moving through each intersection before and after development.

"We used both electronic traffic counters on the roads and manual counters—or people who actually count vehicular traffic passing through an intersection," Ryan said. "There are established protocols for how to do this."

Intersections that garnered the most objection from residents were the crossings of Beacon Hill and Ashford Avenue and Beacon Hill and Ogden Avenue.

"Where is all the traffic coming down Beacon Hill?" called out Ogden Avenue resident David Gralnick. "I only saw one car."

In her statement later, resident Roxana Avalos said that she'd seen the hired traffic-counter with his "counter in one hand and a book in the other"—on more than one occasion.

Attorney for the Developers Mark Weingarten said, "I hear chuckling in the back, but remember that this is only one tool for looking at traffic. Our plans call for a number of structural improvements to the current traffic conditions."

The Village of Dobbs Ferry has hired its own consultants—paid for by the developers—who will present their analyses to the board of trustees as well.

"We hope to have those reports ready by the Jan. 23 meeting," said village engineering consultant Dwight Douglass.

Whether the extrapolated traffic analysis is accurate, nobody will truly know until if and when Rivertowns Square becomes a reality.

"We believe [the analysis] is right," Ryan said before the meeting. "The protocols developed are tried and true. Whether people will have more confidence in the traffic impact after seeing the Synchro analysis remains to be seen."

The third (and final) public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. also in the Embassy Club.

Do you have more confidence that the proposed Rivertowns Square will not have an egregious effect on traffic patterns in Dobbs Ferry after seeing Pearson and Ryan's presentation? Which intersections concern you the most?

*Editor's note: This article was originally published with Synchro Analysis misspelled. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.

AlizaG January 10, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Adding traffic to Beacon Hill Drive, a street which many of our children walk to school on with out sidewalks by the way - would be a very dangerous thing.
DFresident January 11, 2012 at 08:09 PM
The fact that the consultants Dobbs Ferry hired to study Rivertowns Square traffic issues were paid for by the developers of that site makes me extremely skeptical about their findings.
Paddy Steinschneider January 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM
The developer hired traffic engineers to study the area and propose improvements. The Village hired consultants to advise the Village Boards on the information presented in the studies and reports. The Village pays its consultants with funds that are provided to the Village by the developer. Those funds are placed in an escrow account with the payments made to the Village's consultants. The escrow account is administrated by the Village staff with the accounting reviewed by the Village Board. The developer is not involved in the payments to the Village's consultants, except to receive an accounting of how the funds were applied. While the developer had the right to eliminate consultants from consideration by the Village, on the basis of conflicts of interest, the Village decided who to retain. Two of the key consultants, Hahn Engineering and the planner Dwight Douglas, have been providing services to the Village for several years. There is no incentive for the Village's consultant to favor the developer. To the contrary, the demand by the Village Board is to carefully scrutinize the developers findings. At the same time, there are professional standards that are supposed to prevent the Village consultants from being unreasonable. The fact that the funds used to pay the Village's consultants comes from the developer is State law under SEQRA, specifically to avoid the extent and thoroughness of these services being limited by the Village's resources.

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