Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Early Plans to Construct the New England Section of The New York Thruway Through Pelham

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The New York State Thruway Authority is responsible for the maintenace of 641 miles of super highways in New York. In 1950, the Governor of New York signed into law The Thruway Authority Act of 1950 which, among many other things, assigned geographical names to each section of the New York State Thruway system. The statute named one of those sections "New England". The New England Section (I-95) was planned to run from the Bronx to the Connecticut line cutting directly through Pelham.

According to a "Fact Book" provided by The New York State Thruway Authority:

"In 1964, the New York State Legislature mandated that the Thruway System be named 'The Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway,' recognizing the former Governor’s vision and leadership in sponsoring the creation of the cross-state superhighway.

The Thruway has been designated a part of the national network of Blue Star Memorial Highways honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in both World Wars. It is also part of the 43,000-mile network designated by Congress in 1990 as the “Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”

During the 1950s, the Thruway Authority built the New England Section through Pelham and across the grounds of the Pelham Country Club. This section of the Thruway opened to traffic in 1958. Pelham had known for more than a decade of the plans to carve the super highway across its lands. When the time finally came, though, the construction was wrenching. Homes were moved and the lovely grounds of the Country Club were forever changed.

As early as 1942, The Pelham Sun reported on plans to build a super highway through Pelham along the route ultimately followed by the New England Section of the New York State Thruway. One such article appeared in the paper on August 21, 1942. The text of that article appears immediately below.

State Highway to Replace Pelham - Port Chester Truck Road; Could Remodel Golf Course.

The Pelham-Portchester highway, missing link in the belt parkway system proposed by Robert Moses, Chairman of the State Council of Parks, took tangible form this week as the State of New York Temporary Commission for Postwar Public Works Planning offered to consider the building and maintenance of the highway as a post-war project if the County Board of Supervisors would agree formally to cooperate in the program.

The proposed route of the toll-free mixed-traffic expressway runs through Pelham Manor on a portion of the Pelham Country Club, about 250 feet wide, and then crosses Pelhamdale avenue at the site of the Pelham Manor Garage, which the County already owns.

According to George S. Haight, Superintendent of The Westchester County Park Commission, the highway would not necessarily mean the end of the Country Club, as a plan was devised when the road was first taken under advisement to 'rearrange some of the holes,' with no great loss to the club.

Tentative arrangements call for the Board of Supervisors to turn over to the state the $5,800,000 right of way which has been held by the County Park Commission for more than a decade. The strip running through the Country Club has not yet been purchased by the County, but according to the letter received by County Executive Herbert C. Gerlach from the Commission 'state and federal money would be used immediately to determine what additional rights of way would have to be acquired' - which, of course, would include the purchase of a portion of the club.

The project has been deemed by the Commission as one of the most urgent mixed traffic arteries required for regional as well as state purposes. The road would parallel the Boston Post Road from the Connecticut line to appropriate connections in New York City, and eliminate a serious bottleneck in commercial trucking to and from New England.

Westchester has already agreed informally to cooperate in this action, but some formal word is awaited by the State before the expenditure of any additional monies is made in this connection.
The cost of the additional parcels, of which the Country Club is one, is estimated at $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. The highway would required a wide road bed, as the road will consist of two 36 foot traffic lanes separated by a boulevard strip.

Sept. 14 has been set as the date on which the Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss the State's proposal. If they approve the project and the transfer of county owned land, engineers will then proceed with definite plans. Also under consideration is the establishment of connecting routes in New York City and Connecticut, if funds are obtained from the Federal Government. Such action would institute a network of highways that would not only give the state one of the most extensive highway systems, but would provide post war employment for thousands of persons dismissed from defense industries.

The advice of the Budget Committee and the board must be obtained before transferring title to the property. Eventually it is proposed that the road be extended to Boston."

Source: 6-Track Road To Cross Country Club Grounds, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 32, No. 20, Aug. 21, 1942, p. 1, col. 2.

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