FROM PEEKSKILL TO RIDGEFIELD: In 1956, the Westchester County Planning Department recommended an east-west, limited-access highway linking the Peekskill area and the Bear Mountain Bridge with eastern Westchester County and western Fairfield County in Connecticut. The 18.5-mile, four-lane Northern Westchester Expressway was to be a realignment and improvement of NY 35.

From the recommendation report:

The proposed route will provide an improved mixed-traffic route across the northern part of the county for developing areas, connect all of the north-south parkways and proposed north-south expressways, and link the Bear Mountain Bridge with important eastward routes in Connecticut.

The expressway was to be constructed as follows:

  • The first 5.0-mile section of the Northern Westchester Expressway was to begin in Yorktown at the intersection of the proposed Peekskill-Brewster Expressway (Bear Mountain State Parkway right-of-way) and the Taconic State Parkway. It would have skirted the northern and eastern sides of Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, and curved eastward between the unincorporated communities of Yorktown Heights and Amawalk into the Town of Somers. Some difficulties would have been encountered in acquiring right-of-way in the Yorktown Heights area.

  • Next, a 4.0-mile section through the Town of Somers would have continued along the existing alignment of NY 35 south of the Amawalk Reservoir and north of the Croton Reservoir. Following that, a 4.1-mile section between Katonah and Cross River would have crossed the eastern arm of the Croton Reservoir north of downtown Katonah, then continued east along the existing NY 35 alignment on the northern shore of Cross River Reservoir.

  • The final 5.4-mile section of the Northern Westchester Expressway in New York State, between Cross River and the New York-Connecticut border, would have been a northerly bypass of developed areas of Cross River. Just east of Cross River, the expressway would have intersected the proposed Eastern Corridor Expressway (near today's I-684 alignment) before continuing east along the northern boundary of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Before continuing east into Connecticut, the Northern Westchester Expressway would have intersected with the Ossining-South Salem Expressway (NY 172) just east of South Salem. The 1956 planning report recommended ending the expressway via CT 35 and CT 102 at the proposed US 7 Expressway in Ridgefield, Fairfield County.

AND ON TO NEW HAVEN? In 1966, the Westchester County Planning Department revived efforts to build an expressway across the NY 35 corridor. That year, the Tri-State Transportation Commission published its report, Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, which advocated construction of an 80-mile-long, east-west expressway extending from Peekskill to New Haven along the NY 35-CT 34 corridor. The Commission's recommendation was as follows:

The construction of the east-west NY 35 Expressway through northern Westchester County will serve a rapidly developing suburban area. It will fill a need for a peripheral route between the county's north-south highways and the Bear Mountain Bridge. Finally, it will connect to routes leading to Stamford and New Haven.

In addition to providing an east-west route for through traffic in northern Westchester County, an eastward extension of the Northern Westchester Expressway through southern Connecticut would have relieved congestion on the Connecticut Turnpike (I-95) and the Merritt Parkway (CT 15).

The Northern Westchester Expressway was recommended for completion between Peekskill and Yorktown by 1975, and from Yorktown east to New Haven by 1985. Intense opposition along the route led the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission, the successor organization to the Tri-State Transportation Commission, to drop the proposed expressway in 1975.

REVIVING THE ROUTE 35 EXPRESSWAY? In 2000, the NYSDOT and the Westchester County Department of Planning proposed completing the "missing link" of the Bear Mountain State Parkway. The entire route, which today is restricted to passenger cars, would be converted for use to all vehicles. Visual and noise abatements, as well as the construction of a multi-use trail, would be integrated into the controlled-access "greenway" design.

The "greenway" proposal is part of a comprehensive study looking at the Bear Mountain State Parkway and US 6-US 202-NY 35 corridors between Peekskill and Yorktown. However, there are no current plans to extend the proposed route east of the Taconic State Parkway.

THE NORTHERN WESTCHESTER GREENWAY: The Northern Westchester Expressway should be constructed between Peekskill and Katonah. The proposed expressway, which should be designated NY 35, should initially be constructed with four lanes, but have adequate right-of-way for expansion to six lanes. It will facilitate east-west access in northern Westchester County by connecting major north-south arteries and removing traffic from local roads.

Beginning at US 9 in Peekskill, the proposed 14-mile-long Northern Westchester Expressway should utilize the Bear Mountain State Parkway right-of-way for the first four miles. New right-of-way should be set aside between Yorktown and Katonah Ridge along the current NY 35 alignment. Interchanges should be provided at the Taconic State Parkway (near the current Bear Mountain State Parkway exit) and I-684 (near EXIT 6A). The expressway should end at the current NY 35 between Katonah Ridge and Cross River, on the northern shore of Cross River Reservoir.

Finally, the Northern Westchester Expressway should be constructed as a "greenway," with decorative overpasses, multi-use trails, sound barriers and local vegetation incorporated in the design.

SOURCES: "Preliminary Plan for Major Thoroughfares in Northern Westchester," Westchester County Planning Department (1956); "Westchester Maps Need for Roads" by Merrill Folsom, The New York Times (4/28/1966); Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); "Report Assets Fairfield Needs No New Expressways for Years" by Michael Knight, The New York Times (2/13/1975); Maintaining Mobility, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1975); Peter Cooper; Scott Oglesby; Douglas A. Willinger.

  • NY 35 and CT 34 shields by Ralph Herman.


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