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.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Proposal in the 1940s For Tunnel Beneath Boston Post Road To Carry Twelve-Lane Highway

For more than fifteen years in the 1940s and 1950s, residents of the Village of Pelham Manor fretted over plans to construct a stretch of what we know today as the New England Thruway through the quiet village. On September 14, 2005, I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "Early Plans to Construct the New England Section of The New York Thruway Through Pelham" detailing some of the early plans to build a giant highway through a portion of the grounds of the Pelham Country Club.

As one would expect, even in the early 1940s the "Not In My Backyard" contingents were pressuring local lawmakers and lobbying vigorously regarding precisely where the planned New England Thruway should pass through Pelham. For example, according to one account:

"'It was first suggested that the Thru-Way should run parallel with the New Haven Railroad [i.e., the Branch Line] on the south side,' said the Mayor, 'then pressure was brought to bear by interested property owners and its proposed route was shifted to the north side and then another pressure group caused the route to be again changed."

Planning Board Should Control Thru-Way Route, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 33, No. 24, Sep. 16, 1943, p. 1, col. 6.

In 1943, local realtor Guy Mariner floated an odd trial balloon obviously intended to avoid all such controversy. On the evening of Tuesday, August 10, 1943, Mr. Mariner made a presentation to attendees at the annual dinner of the Pelham Realty Board in which he proposed construction of a twelve-lane tunnel beneath Boston Post Road to carry New England Thruway traffic through Pelham Manor. According to one account, this was "the first public announcement of a plan on which Mr. Mariner has been working for many months."

The local newspaper reported that:

"The Mariner plan continues the super-truck highway which is planned to gather the traffic from east and west side of New York and concentrate it at a meeting point near Boston Post road and Eastchester Creek. In this respect it coincides with the Moses New England Thru-Way, the six-track highway planned to bisect Pelham Manor parallel with the New Haven shore line tracks on the surface. From the focal point at Westchester County border line, the Mariner plan contemplates a twelve-track tunnel under the Eastchester Creek, the exit of which would be at the base of the Boston Post road hill near the Hutchinson Parkway. At this point the plan provides a twelve-lane tunnel which will run underneath Boston Post road and deliver the traffic load at the New Rochelle boundary line, from whence it may be taken on a new highway through New Rochelle to the Pelham Port Chester highway this side of Larchmont."

New Traffic Plan To Provide For 12-Lane Tunnel Under Post Road, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 33, No. 19, Aug. 12, 1943, p. 1, col. 7.

Alas, the Mariner Plan (as it was called) failed due to the monumental expense of such a project that would have been Pelham's own version of the "Big Dig". 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, much to Mr. Mariner's chagrin.

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