Getting off the Henry Hudson Parkway at Exit 22 was not an option last Friday morning.
Without any notice or even signs posted along the expressway, drivers heading southbound on the parkway learned they could not exit to West 254th Street and Mosholu Avenue the moment they had the exit in their sights. A truck with a flashing arrow, and some tape blocking the road was the only warning drivers had.
“The (traffic) backup was intense,” America Rosario, co-president of P.S. 81 Robert Christen’s parents’ association, said. “Huge delays.”
Rosario lives a few blocks from the school, which is near the exit. He was not personally affected, but saw the impact of the closure, which also included many of the streets around the campus.
The parents’ association, which represents more than 800 families that attend the 5550 Riverdale Ave. school, were caught off guard because there was “no sign” indicating the closure.
“There wasn’t good communication, and I’ve never seen it done before like this,” Rosario said.
The transportation department should have reconsidered the timing, he added. The area had higher traffic than usual because of graduation ceremonies taking place for schools in the vicinity, not to mention everyday traffic, school buses and parents taking their children to school.
For Arlene Giagrande, the closure meant her mother and father-in-law might have missed her son’s “stepping up” ceremony. He’s enrolled at St. Margaret of Cortona School’s preschool, and was graduating from the class geared toward 3- and 4-year-olds Friday. The school, located at 452 W. 260th St., was seven blocks from the closures.
“There was no sign that indicated that there was going to be a closure,” Giagrande said. The family got to Exit 22 from Westchester County only to find they had to detour at West 246th Street. But with no signage marking the detour, and not knowing where to go, they depended on a friendly cab driver, who led them to the school just in time for the ceremony.
It’s not that the city’s transportation department provided no warning. Flyers were posted along West 256th Street and Mosholu Avenue telling drivers there would be no parking June 15 and June 16 because of roadway milling. Community Board 8 received a notice of the milling work taking place last week, but the notice didn’t include details like street closures.
Milling is a process that removes the top layer of asphalt to prepare a street for paving.
The street closure, along with unannounced exit closure, compounded the traffic problem, Rosario said.
State transportation department spokeswoman Jennifer Post, which maintains Henry Hudson Parkway, referred questions about the exit closure to city officials.
“In this instance, the exit had been closed briefly to accommodate milling work, and was quickly reopened,” said city transportation department spokeswoman Alana Morales said in an email. In general, an approved long-term full ramp closure requires a notification of at least seven days by placing message boards on the highway near the ramp with the message indicating the dates and times of the closure.
Both Rosario and Giagrande applauded the city’s transportation department for making roads repairs, but would like to be alerted beforehand.
“They (the transportation department) are improving the street,” Giagrande said. “The communication is just a little off.”