PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, both New York Democrats, held a press conference Tuesday to ask Connecticut to seek the input of New Yorkers on the impact of possible toll booths on Interstate 95 near Port Chester and Rye.
Outside the Port Chester Village Hall, Schumer said Connecticut estimates at least 14,000 cars and trucks daily could cut through Port Chester streets to avoid tolls or the backups they would cause if installed on I-95 at the state border.
"Many Westchester communities are rightfully concerned,'' Schumer said. "Unfortunately, Westchester officials are not being asked for input."
Port Chester Mayor-Elect Dennis Pilla said Boston Post Road (Route 1) and King Street are "from the horse-and-buggy Colonial era" -- and not designed to carry heavy vehicle traffic. Detours after the Mianus River Bridge collapse on I-95 in Greenwich in 1983 created "hours and hours of backups," Pilla said.
A study is expected to be released next month announcing where Connecticut could place new toll plazas throughout the state, including near the New York State line. More than 140,000 trucks and cars would slowly pass through the plazas, Schumer said, generating more air pollution.
The plan "could do serious harm to local communities like Port Chester and Rye, and it should not move forward without community input,'' Schumer said. "We're calling on the Connecticut Department of Transportation to do the right thing and listen to their neighbors."
Lowey said she intends to join Schumer in expressing to the Federal Highway Administration "forcefully the pros and cons" of collecting tolls near the New York-Connecticut border. Lowey said local traffic jams would be harmful to Port Chester businesses. "It has wonderful restaurants,'' she said. "This is a family place, a family town."
Deputy Port Chester Mayor Gene Ceccarelli and Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin also spoke at Tuesday's news conference. "We're already overcrowded on our streets now,'' Ceccarelli said.
"It will be devastating for Port Chester,'' Carvin said.