Route 121 in North Salem to be closed for several weeks this summer for construction


Photo by John Guccione

A major construction project in North Salem will close Route 121 completely for at least three weeks this summer and limit traffic to one lane for up to several months. The project, which is being overseen by the New York State Department of Transportation, will require traffic detours that will have a major impact on North Salem residents and commuters who frequent the well-traveled corridor between New York and Connecticut.

North Salem Town Supervisor Warren Lucas said that the work involves replacing the cement culvert under Route 121 around the southern portion of Peach Lake, near Cottage Lane. The culvert helps direct water flow from Peach Lake.

“The work is required as the beams supporting the current roadway are collapsing,” Lucas said. “Currently a small metal plate is in place to help support the side of the southbound lane.”

A map depicting the detour plan for the construction project on Route 121 in North Salem. Image courtesy of New York State Department of Transportation

DOT officials told Lucas that work was expected to begin in late June. The first steps in the process will include setting up a staging area, removing trees, surveying the operation and setting up detour signs. Once the initial work is done, the road will be closed 24/7 in both directions for a period of about three weeks. That period is expected to begin immediately following the July 4th holiday. Following that, there will be intermittent lane closures on Rt. 121 for up to several months, with flagmen in place to direct traffic. No weekend or after-hours work is planned, according to Jim Bohren, board member of the Pietsch Gardens Co-Op, the neighborhood that borders the culvert.

Starr Ridge Road, which runs between North Salem and Brewster, will be particularly affected by the planned detours, as locals and commuters who typically travel along Route 121 will be detoured to Route 6 and Starr Ridge Road.

“Road work is a necessary and important inconvenience.That being said, I hope that the planning includes additional traffic enforcement on Starr Ridge Road while this work is being done,” said Kathleeen Nazarenko, a North Salem resident who lives on Starr Ridge Road. Nazarenko noted how busy traffic patterns are already on the busy north-south road. “We frequently have difficulty getting out of our own driveway at certain times of the day due to the volume of traffic on Starr Ridge. And when turning left into our own driveway, we have to watch for cars illegally passing us. It’s truly frightening.”

Some residents who live along Peach Lake near 121 acknowledged the stress that the construction will bring while expressing gratitude for a temporary relief in congestion along the normally busy road. “We have a lot of Connecticut drivers that pass through on 121 when 684 and I-84 is messed up,” said Bohren. “That traffic will stop and hopefully go in a different direction and not have to turn around. There is some relief there.”

The work to replace the culvert is being handled by Yonkers-based Transit Construction Corp. The culvert at Route 121 and Cottage Lane in North Salem is just one of four culverts the company is tasked with replacing as part of its contract with the DOT. The others are outside of North Salem.

Transit Construction Corp and representatives from the DOT met late last week with Town of North Salem officials and emergency services, including the Croton Falls Fire Department, North Salem Police and North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps, in order to prepare for the disruption. In a Facebook post to residents, Lucas noted that full closure of the road would cause a “greater impact for our emergency services personnel and their ability to more easily cover the east side of Peach Lake in emergencies.” To account for that, Lucas said that Croton Falls Fire would request mutual aid coverage from the Brewster and Danbury fire departments in cases of emergency. 

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