This 1998 photo shows the Pearl River Bypass (NY 304) looking north from North Middletown Road (Rockland CR 33) in Pearl River. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
FROM PEARL RIVER TO NANUET: In 1960, the Rockland County Planning Department planned a bypass of Route 304 between Pearl River and Nanuet. Originally, NY 304 was routed along East Washington Avenue, Middletown Road, Church Street and Smith Street. Speeds along NY 304 averaged 10 to 15 miles per hour. It was forecast that by 1980, between 30,000 and 40,000 vehicles per day (AADT) would travel in the NY 304 corridor. Even if traffic improvements were made on these local streets, they would still not be able to handle the additional traffic.
The recommended route of the new NY 304 was to run from East Washington Avenue in downtown Pearl River north to NY 59A (West Nyack Road) in Nanuet. The Pearl River Bypass was to have two grade-separated interchanges: a partial-cloverleaf at Middletown Road in Pearl River, and a full cloverleaf at NY 59 (Suffern-Nyack Turnpike) in Nanuet. Most of the 200-foot-wide right-of-way was vacant, but was zoned for commercial and industrial use. The four-lane, controlled-access Pearl River Bypass opened in 1970.
According to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the Pearl River Bypass carries approximately 25,000 vehicles per day (AADT).
EXTENDING NORTH TO HAVERSTRAW: The 1960 "Rockland County Transportation Study and Highway Plan" also considered an expressway extension along the NY 304 corridor from NY 59 in Nanuet north to US 9W at Hook Mountain State Park. However, expected 1980 traffic counts along NY 304 corridor north of Nanuet did not warrant construction of a route along a new right-of-way. Subsequently, the Pearl River-Haverstraw Expressway proposal north of Nanuet was dropped from the report.
The NYSDOT estimates that approximately 30,000 vehicles per day use NY 304 from NY 59 (Nyack Turnpike) in Nanuet north to the County Center in New City, and approximately 20,000 vehicles per day from New City north to the NY 304-US 9W junction at the Congers-Haverstraw border.
SOURCES: "Rockland County Transportation Study and Highway Plan," Rockland County Planning Department (1960); "Expressway Plans," Regional Plan Association News (May 1964); New York State Department of Transportation; Daniel T. Dey.