RAMAPO, N.Y. -- As Ramapo police kick off their pedestrian safety campaign that was planned to begin before a family of four was mowed down on Route 59 on Monday, others are calling for major improvements.
Albert Gomez, 69, of Spring Valley hit a mother who was walking with her daughters, ages 8 and 13, and 3-month-old son in a stroller near the Town Square Mall while he was attempting to pass a car on the shoulder in a fit of rage.
Following the accident, local elected officials and organizations are calling for changes to happen sooner, rather than later.
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) requested the New York State Department of Transportation expedite changes to Route 59 which were originally slated to start next summer.
In his letter, Carlucci said: "The terrible tragedy that took place this week when a motorist drove onto the right shoulder of Route 59 in Monsey and struck a mother and three children demonstrated the urgency for improvements the State has already committed to."
But the accident only highlighted just one of the problems with the roadway for Improve59, an organization comprised of business leaders, community groups, and concerned citizens have been working for months to come up with a proposal that would solve the issues.
"The infrastructure in the Route 59 corridor needs a comprehensive upgrade. We appreciate the attention this matter received at our meeting last month with DOT hosted by Sen. David Carlucci, who has been advocating for 59 improvements long before the recent tragedy this week, and multiple other accidents and even fatalities in the last year," said Attorney Ryan Karben, Improve59 spokesperson.
Some of the ideas included in the master plan include:
- Creating an additional lane of traffic in each direction on Rt. 59
- Adding an additional lane of traffic on Rt. 306 to enhance traffic flow
- Synchronizing traffic lights
- Opening the Rt. 59 Bypass road
For the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists:
- Adding sidewalks
- Creating safe pedestrian crossings
- Developing a biking/walking trail with a safe recreation area for children extending from the Park & Ride all the way through Monsey Glen Park.
"We invite residents interested in learning more about our proposal to visit improve59.com ," said Karben.
The coalition has meetings scheduled throughout July with local and state elected officials in an effort to find funding, and move the effort forward.
Officials with the Ramapo Police said Wednesday that all four members of the family remain in the hospital. Gomez is being held at the Rockland County Jail on $150,000 bail.