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Death on the Thruway

September
19

Today’s news report on the horrific New York State Thruway crash notes the fatal lore surrounding the stretch of highway dividing Rockland and Orange, observing that some drivers attribute the number of accidents there to a curse. The article, rest assured, dismisses notions of a curse, as well as any concern  that the stretch is any more dangerous than the rest of the Thruway. Doubtless, a richer target for inquiry into factors contributing to the tragedy will be the type of vehicle involved — the ubiquitous extended passenger van.

Federal highway officials have long decried the poor design of such vehicles, which typically hold up to 15 passengers, making them a favorite for church groups, college athletic teams, migrant workers, the military, and even daycare centers. The trouble is, they have a high center of gravity, making them more susceptible to rollover accidents under certain conditions, such as when a driver executes a sharp turn or otherwise “over corrects” when traveling at high speeds. Other factors in the extended van’s  well-documented history of carnage: drivers, not necessarily professional drivers, are often unaware of the hazards associated with the vehicles, or the need to be vigilant about tire maintenance; and passengers often raise the ante by not wearing  seat belts. Another finding by government researchers: the more people in an extended van, the greater the peril.

Here’s what the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report:

Fifteen-passenger vans, which make up about 0.25 percent of the passenger vehicle fleet in the United States, are frequently used to transport school sports teams, van pools, church groups, and other groups. Although they are involved in a proportionate number of fatal accidents compared to their percentage in the fleet, they are involved in a higher number of single-vehicle accidents involving rollovers than are other passenger vehicles. Various factors have been associated with 15-passenger van rollover, particularly occupancy level and vehicle speed. Because these vans are designed to carry 15 passengers, the Safety Board is particularly concerned about the relationship between occupancy level and vehicle rollover.

In Saturday’s tragedy, police said the van blew a rear tire; the driver over corrected to the right, swerving over the rumble strip; and the van rolled over several times. Passengers — a group from Joy Fellowship Christian Assemblies in the Bronx to a banquet in Schenectady — spilled from the vehicle. Seven were reported dead and several others were injured. Police said that only the driver and front passenger were wearing seat belts.

The accident was reminiscent of one last month in Westchester. One person was killed and nine were injured when an extended van transporting day laborers slid off of Interstate 287 and overturned. Police reported that all of the passengers were ejected from the van.

Obviously, there is much to learn about the facts surrounding Saturday’s tragedy. One need not look too far afield, however, to acknowledge a circumstance  that should be relevant to investigators — or anyone who sets foot inside an extended van in the future.

Posted by Herb Pinder on Sunday, September 19th, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Boston Post Road, from the nation’s origins

June
18

Many of us drive Boston Post Road — Route 1 — to traverse downtown New Rochelle, visit car dealers and diners, get to Playland or the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye.

It’s easy to forget (though also easy to find reminders) that the road played many roles in the formation of the nation, not least of which was the origins of our postal service.

Now a writer from Manahttan, Eric Jaffe, reminds us with “The King’s Best Highway,” a 267-page volume that traces Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 11:18 am |
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Yonkers bridge over old railroad to re-open

June
18

The Mile Square Road between bridge over the abandoned Putnam Railroad in Yonkers, closed since March, is expected to re-open Wednesday, Westchester County announced.

The span between Sprain Place and Midwood Avenue. It was closed for Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 10:43 am |
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Tri-State campaign wants tougher safe-streets bill

June
17

A bill to require streets to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians has passed the New York State Senate, but the Tri-State Transportation Campaign says the Assembly version is too weak.

The bill, sometimes called “complete streets,” requires Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Thursday, June 17th, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
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A teenager runs cross-country. Literally, across the country

June
14

Here we are (some of us) having just finished following the news of the 16-year-old who tried to become the youngest ever to sail around the world, when word comes now that a 17-year-old woman who is about to finish a 3,200-mile run from Los Angeles to Manhattan.

Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan is scheduled to reach Times Square tomorrow, completing the on-foot trek she began September, 2009.

U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood calls her “a true American Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Monday, June 14th, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
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Beware the closed on-ramp at Exit 13 on the Palisades parkway

June
12

Intermittent ramp closures are planned on the Palisades Interstate Parkway’s Exit 13 southbound entrance ramp from Route 202 from Monday through Wednesday due to road paving, the state Department of Transportation said. The closures are scheduled to occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Motorists intending to travel south on the Palisades Interstate Parkway from Route 202 and Route 45 are advised to follow the posted detour.

Posted by Khurram Saeed on Saturday, June 12th, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
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Another hitch for the MTA on cost savings.

June
10

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has set another round of hearings to talk about layoffs of station agents and closures of subway booths, but it isn’t happy to do so.

It comes on orders of a judge.

While MTA heads, starting with Chief Executive Jay Walder, have announced Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Boating on Sound? Connecticut toughens drunk boating law

May
28

You know that it’s no more legal to be driving a boat than a car when you’re drunk. Now Connecticut has toughened its boating while intoxicated law.

This comes after Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s law last year doling out harsher penalties to anyone who kills Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 11:37 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Memorial Day transportation schedule changes

May
27

Here are the Memorial Day weekend schedule changes for mass transit in Rockland, as provided by the county:

FRIDAY:

• Regularly scheduled Tappan ZEExpress buses will provide extra seating from Tarrytown station during Friday afternoon.

• Coach USA Rockland Coaches (Red & Tan Lines) express bus routes will operate early rush hour buses from Port Authority bus terminal. Route 45 will begin service at 1:50 p.m. Route 47 will begin at 2:30 p.m. and Route 49 will begin at 2:15 p.m.

• NJ Transit will add extra trains. On the Main/Bergen Line, an early train will depart from New York’s Penn Station at 2:37 p.m. and from Hoboken at 2:43 p.m. On the Pascack Valley Line, an early train will depart from Penn Station at 2:37 p.m. and from Hoboken at 2:51 p.m. The Pascack Valley train that normally departs Penn Station at 5:45 p.m. and Hoboken at 5:55 p.m. will be cancelled.

• Coach USA Express bus service from the Exit 14 Park & Ride lot will operate regular morning service. Evening service from Manhattan from 56 St. & 5th Ave will add two early getaway buses at 2:00 and 2:30 p.m. Wall Street buses will operate regular evening schedules.

MONDAY (MEMORIAL DAY):

• Rockland County’s Tappan ZEExpress and Transport of Rockland (TOR) buses will operate Saturday schedules, except that TOR Loop 1 and Loop 2 will operate weekday schedules.

• TRIPS Paratransit bus service will not operate.

• Clarkstown Mini-Trans, Spring Valley Jitney, Coach USA Express (Exit 14) and the TOR Ferry Express buses will not operate.

• The Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry will not operate.

• Coach USA Rockland Coaches (Red & Tan Lines) routes 9, 9W, 11-A, 11-C and 20 will operate Sunday schedules. Commuter express routes 45, 47 and 49 will not operate.

• Coach USA’s Shortline buses will operate a holiday schedule.

• Monsey Trails buses will operate a holiday schedule.

• Metro-North’s Hudson Line and Port Jervis Line trains will operate weekend schedules.

• NJ Transit trains will operate a Weekend schedule on the Main/Bergen Line and on the Pascack Valley Line. Call 973-275-5555 or go to www.njtransit.com.

For all transit inquiries, call the Rockland Transit Information Center at 845-364-3333, weekedays, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Or visit the county’s website at www.rocklandgov.com and click on the bus.

Posted by Khurram Saeed on Thursday, May 27th, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Metro-North makes early holiday weekend getaway easier

May
27

If your leaving your Manhattan job early for the Memorial Day weekend, Metro-North has got more trains for you. The railroad is scheduling more trains out of Grand Central Terminal early Friday afternoon for those eager to start their summer.

On the other hand, the railroad is scaling back its service later in the afternoon and evening, figuring that most people will have left by then.

Here’s the railroad’s Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Thursday, May 27th, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Merritt Parkway’s character “endangered?”

May
26

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has raised the alarm about the Merritt Parkway, the 37.5 winding miles of scenery and ornamented overpasses that the Hutchinson River Parkway becomes when it crosses from Westchester into Connecticut.

The road is on the National Register of Historic Places partly because of the overpasses, each one unique, Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
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Cycling colleague suggests “Share the Road” license plate

May
5

Here’s an idea from my colleague Randall Wolf: A “Share the Road” license plate.

You’d pay extra for it, like other custom vehicle plates that support causes such as the arts, multiple sclerosis research and wildlife conservation, and the extra money would go toward bike lanes and other things that foster cycling in New York state. Randall, an avid cyclist, posted the idea on his Cycling Central blog just in time Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
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Spirit sticking with carry-on fees despite talk with Schumer

April
21

Spirit Airlines chief Ben Baldanza told NBC Today’s Matt Lauer that the airlines is going ahead with its fees for carry-on bags stored in overhead bins.

Baldanza spoke with Lauer as U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer appeared on the show remotely to continue Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Train stop from 1888 to host Mamaroneck restaurant

April
20

Many Metro-North Railroad station buildings host coffee shops, and in at least a couple of places — Hartsdale comes to mind — they are as much a place for people to take a break while downtown and kill some time as they are places for commuters to pick up coffee and a scone on the way to work.

In Mamaroneck, brothers John and Chris Verni propose something a bit more Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
| | Comments Off on Train stop from 1888 to host Mamaroneck restaurant

New Feiner suggestion for BxM4C: Park-and-ride lots

April
19

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, just called me with another suggestion to help save the Manhattan express bus run by Westchester County’s Bee-Line system.

His idea: Park-and-ride lots along Central Avenue to help Read more of this entry »

Posted by Ken Valenti on Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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About this blog
Going Places is your online source for shortcuts and news on the ins and outs of getting around the Lower Hudson Valley. We'll help you deal with traffic tie-ups, bad drivers and the high cost of commuting.

Going Places is written by transportation writers Khurram Saeed and Ken Valenti. Khurram's transportation column, "Getting There," runs Wednesdays in Rockland. Ken's column, "Going Places," runs Mondays in Westchester and Putnam. Join in the conversation and share tips on coping with fellow commuters.

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About the author
Khurram SaeedKhurram SaeedKhurram Saeed has been reporting for The Journal News since 2000. He writes about transportation issues in Rockland and has a weekly column called Getting There, which appears Wednesdays. READ MORE


Ken Valenti Ken Valenti Ken Valenti covers trains, planes and automobiles - not to mention buses and ferries - for Westchester and Putnam. He's been a reporter with The Journal News and its forerunners more than 20 years and has covered all four corners of Westchester County. READ MORE


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