The May issue of Westchester Magazine has some fun with a look at Westchester in the year 2020–a county with a lower level on the Tappan Zee bridge for trains, residential areas built around transit, county-sponsored cars on-demand, and maybe even an 18-mile tunnel from Westchester to Long Island.
The first element of the Westchester-of-the-future package asks “How Will You Get to Work in 2020?” While it seems everyone in my neighborhood who works drives to some corner of Westchester each day, reporter Eric Lebowitz says car commuting is actually trending downward in the county:
According to county data records, most recently updated in November 2008, fewer of us used our cars to get around in 2006 than we did in 2000, 67 percent vs. 71 percent. During that same period, 8,000 fewer of us drove to work while the number who walked to work increased from about 17,000 to 24,000. From 2003 to 2007, Metro-North ridership increased almost 10 percent, and Bee-Line ridership rose almost 7 percent from 2006 to 2007. More than 20 percent of us now use public transit as our primary means of getting to work.
County Exec Andy Spano says he’s keen to stem the flow of residents into Westchester, and would prefer they take up residence in downtown areas that are pedestrian-friendly and centered around Metro-North stations, such as White Plains and New Rochelle (ah, the eternal promise of a New Rochelle utopia).
He’d like many newcomers to move to the county’s major downtown areas because they provide easy access to mass transit and are within walking distance of restaurants, pharmacies, hardware stores, etc. Newcomers might consider buying a condo in New Rochelle or White Plains, which have two of the busiest Metro-North stations in the county.
“It’s all about quality of life, and the quality of life relies on the pattern of development in Westchester,“ says Commissioner of Planning Jerry Mulligan.”
That 18-mile tunnel, meanwhile, would run from Rye to Syosset, Long Island and relieve considerable stress on the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges. Opposition from those in the affected areas will be a major hurdle.