Three fatal accidents have occurred on the Bear Mountain Parkway (BMP) near Locust Avenue in the since 2001, according to documents provided by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. One of those accidents was earlier this month when after the driver of a car traveling westbound swerved into the eastbound lane and collided with the car Barnes was in. The other fatal accidents occurred in 2001 and 2005.
Based on information obtained from the DMV by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), there have been 201 accidents on the same section (approximately between Route 202 and just past Route 6) of the BMP in which 55 people were injured, between March 2001 and March 2011. That represents about a one-mile stretch of the approximately four-mile-long parkway.
Most of the accidents (127 of them) happened during the day, 50 occurred at night and 8 occurred during dawn or dusk. The DMV reports that the “apparent factor” in about 20 of the accidents was improper turning, although many more of the accidents involved turns.
Other “apparent factors” in the accidents were following too closely, failure to yield, improper lane changes, animals in the road, cell phone use, snow/ice and alcohol.
The Town of Cortlandt has asked the state to install a median barrier on the BMP to make it safer for drivers. While the state for the parkway, it canceled the project once the economic crisis occurred in 2008. That project would have started in 2012. Now, it seems unlikely that the state will install a barrier, as it says it lacks the manpower, equipment and funding to do so.
The New York State Police are still investigating the accident in which LaMarr Barnes was killed on Dec. 9, 2011.
The DOT investigated the accident right after it occured, said Michael Cotton, the NYSDOT's Regional Traffic Engineer. If the police conclude that road geometrics contributed to the Dec. 9 accident, the DOT will investigate whether or not there is something they could do to make the road safer. Road geometrics would be something like a blind hill, poor sight distance or sharp curve on the roadway. None of the 201 accidents in the DMV list that reported an "apparent factor" mentioned road geometrics. They were largely human error. (Some accidents' "apparent factors" were not available).
"We do investigations all the time," Cotton said. He explained that if residents complain or the town passes a resolution asking the DOT to add a stop sign, change the speed limit or make some other change, the DOT will investigate and make the change if they agree it can make a road safer.Cotton says the DOT often makes small safety adjustments when it deems it necessary.
A median barrier is a much bigger project, as it would require the road to be changed to one lane on both sides or to be widened. Since the state funding for the $60 million project fell through, BMP has been bumped off the state's Prioirty Investigation List (PIL), by roads with higher rates of accidents and fatalities.
"The way a road gets on the list is statisitcal," Cotton says. "It is dynamic so it can always change."
This means that hundreds other roads would take priority for DOT investigation and monitoring for such a large project.
The other two BMP fatal accidents occurred on Oct. 18, 2001 and June 9, 2005. The DMV reports that excessive speed was the factor in the 2005 fatality and improper turning was involved in the 2001 fatality.
Patch will report the state police findings once they close their investigations and release the information.