BLAUVELT, N.Y. - Cars whizzed by on Route 303 Thursday where the southern portion of Greenbush Road meets the state highway.
Sometime in the 1960s when Route 303 was constructed, Town Supervisor Andy Stewart explained, the state highway cut off a portion of Greenbush Road, separating the road into two parts and creating a dangerous situation for cyclists.
But local officials plan to make the intersection safer by installing a bypass through the Blauvelt State Park, along Route 303, to connect the northern and southern parts of Greenbush Road, part of a popular bike loop in the area.
The path will be roughly 1,300 feet long, about 10 feet wide, and will be constructed by the Orangetown High Department. Project costs will run just under $100,000 but the funds for construction will come from a grant secured by State Sen. David Carlucci.
“This will actually make their ride much safer,” Orangetown Councilman Paul Valentine said.
The idea for the bypass was first conceived a few years ago by Valentine, whose business has been situated on the land between the two roads since 1994. On a typical Saturday Valentine estimates around 200 to 300 cyclists pass through the area, and over the years he’s seen a half dozen motorist-cyclist accidents.
“And the bike traffic is picking up, it’s not slowing down,” Valentine said, especially once the new Tappan Zee Bridge is completed with a multi-use path that will draw more cyclists, a sentiment echoed by Carlucci.
"By building this bypass, we are reducing the risk for cyclists, and encourage people to come ride in Rockland County," Carlucci said.
The bypass is a step in the right direction for members of the cycling community.
“But there is a lot to be done in the area as far as making the roads wider, education, and signage,” said Michael Benowitz, who is the president of the Rockland Bicycling Club.
Benowitz, who lives in New City, offered praise for the bypass and hopes it sets a precedent for the rest of the county.
Stewart said the area must be surveyed and hopes for construction to commence later this year. However, he doesn't anticipate it will begin until after Thanksgiving.