Hurricane Sandy aftermath: Bronx River Parkway opens southbound; many roads blocked
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Police barriers, downed power lines and fallen trees continue to block secondary roads two days after Hurricane Sandy thrashed the Hudson Valley and work crews started cleaning up the mess.
Authorities continued to urge motorists to stay off the roads unless necessary, as crews raced to remove debris and disconnect power from electrical lines entangled with fallen trees and branches.
Describing Sandy as "devastating" for the region at a Wednesday news conference with state officials, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said local public works crews were ready to clear roads, but were waiting on power utilities to assist them.
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"The biggest frustration, I think, that most of the municipalities have is that their (public works) crews are ready, but we cannot clear some of the big roads if wires are on them," he said. "We have to have the utilities with us to kill the power, or certify that the power is dead."
In Westchester County, the southbound Bronx River Parkway was opened Wednesday, and the northbound lanes were expected to open later in the afternoon, county police spokesman Kieran O'Leary said.
Overall, a spokeswoman from Con Edison said more than 3,000 wires were down and 800 roads were closed in Westchester.
Downed trees were blamed for a lane closure on Route 22 at Valeria Circle in North Salem, and Route 116 was closed from Route 121 in the town to the Connecticut state line. New Castle, which remains in a state of emergency, reported Wednesday that more than 100 roads remained closed.
Other communities in the county, including Lewisboro and Bedford, continued to report closed roads Wednesday. In Mamaroneck, where 60 percent of the town remains without electricity in Sandy's wake, Fenimore Road remains closed, as downed trees and wires have blocked its access point from Scarsdale, Town Administrator Steve Altieri said.
"The daily routine doesn't change much," he said. "We're just trying to catch up."
Rockland County officials said Wednesday that several state routes, including Route 202 in Ramapo and Haverstraw, Route 9W in Orangetown and Route 303 in Clarkstown, were reporting obstructions that led to road closures in several spots. More than 400 roads in Clarkstown have been affected by the storm, and officials have issued an order asking residents to stay off the streets to make way for emergency personnel.
But despite similar warnings across the region, authorities expressed frustration Wednesday as drivers took to the roads anyway.
"We've put up barricades, but you still have people driving around them," Bedford Sgt. Tom Biebold said. "It's always a danger, but they think it's for the other guy. It's not."
In Putnam County, about 70 local and county roads are closed to some extent, although the county's major thoroughfares have been cleared, said Bruce Walker, the deputy county executive. An additional 40 roads are passable but are dealing with downed trees and other debris, but he believes roughly half of the affected routes could be cleared by Thursday.
More than 60 county and town roads remained closed throughout Ulster County, including Route 28 at Winchells Corners, Albany Post Road and parts of Route 44/55 near the interchange with Route 299, according to the county's website.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel remained closed Wednesday morning. But the city's bridges remained open, and heavy car traffic crossed the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise.
With Timothy O'Connor