Crowd-Sourcing Commuter Traffic

A new “06880” reader named Bill writes:

I came across your blog by googling “Merritt construction delays.”  I’m researching this because my family and I are thinking of moving from Exit 27 to Exit 42, off Tupelo Road.

My fear is that my commute to Tarrytown will go from 20 minutes, to 50 minutes or more.

But is this simply a product of the construction process and barricades? Or has traffic always been this bad from Westport to Exit 28? I hope that traffic won’t be this bad after this construction ends. Or is that just wishful thinking?

Any other suggestions, like a back road such as Route 7? Or maybe US1 (not a back road, but better than sitting in traffic)? Thank you!

I told Bill I am not the expert on this. One of the joys of my life is that my commute takes 5 steps (from my bedroom to my home office).

“06880” readers, on the other hand, are true experts. So, in the spirit of helping Bill — and anyone else wondering about commuter traffic — please click “Comments,” and offer insights and ideas. As always, use full, real names.

An "06880" reader fears this is what he'll face every day.

An “06880” reader fears this is what he’ll face every day.

27 responses to “Crowd-Sourcing Commuter Traffic

  1. Dave Feliciano

    Good luck with that commute. Unless you arrive at Tarrytown before 7:00a.m and leave before 3:00p.m., you are doomed to waste your life in the car. The traffic planers in both states refuse to change, and while roads designed in the 1900’s have been marginally improved, the idea of a innovative East -West monorail running through Rockland County are just Engineering Students Dreams.

    Light rail alternatives exist all over the country except in our region of the country. I solved the travel dilemma, by retiring to lovely Westport. And I hate to disappoint you but 50 minutes is a pipe dream after the fort snowflake or raindrop.

  2. As a daily , but short term, commuter to upper Manhattan, you would have to leave your home at exit 42 no later than 6:30 to avoid rush hour traffic on the Merritt. I moved from Yonkers to the exit 42 area in 1999.

    After the daily grind back and forth to theGW bridge area, I retired early. The trip home was just as bad, and if I left ny later than 3:00 pm or in snow or rain, I could spend 2-3 hours getting home. Sorry…no back roads from Merritt, only route 1 from I95, and everyone else has the same idea!

    Westport is beautiful, but know what you’re getting into.

  3. I am blessed not to have to commute daily via the Merritt or I95, but I can say with certainty that major delays cause commuters to exit the highway and pour into the closest town. So it makes travel in town just as miserable. If there’s a short cut, it’s already packed with traffic. Forget trying to get to the train if you have only minutes to spare. Then you get behind a school bus….

  4. Been commuting from here to Pleasantville for over 5 years now, close to Tarrytown. Short answer is yes, you’re looking at a permanent 50 minute commute. All the traffic problems I hit are between Westport and right about where you live now, honestly. Two things. The time you leave makes a huge difference. For a year or two I left very early in the morning, flew to work & worked out at a gym near the office and showered there. And if you have a smartphone, use the Waze app and go where it tells you. If an obscure off-highway route is faster it will take you there (it won’t be faster than the 50 minutes but it will be better than the usual route on high traffic days.)

  5. I’ve commuted to White Plains from just off exit 42 for 18 years. Before 6:30 am you can count on 50 minutes to WP (exit 6 off 287). Leave later than that and it can easily balloon to 70-80 minutes. The big slog is Norwalk to Stamford, south of that and it is highway speeds all the way. The return trip is more of a lottery. Thursdays seem the worst followed by Fridays. Leave after 3pm and it will range from about 60 minutes (from WP) to easily an hour and a half or more. My better half used to work in Nyack and bailed out once we moved from Greenwich to Westport. Westport is great but the commute to Tarrytown will wear you out.

  6. Congratulations on looking at making Westportnyour next home. It’s a fabulous place that once you get settled you will be amazed at all the activities for you and your family. One in particular is out beach-Compo Beach. One sideshow can lay on the sand-the other side you can use one of the free BBQ and cook a feast for you and friends. Then there is the best school system for you family. Just google
    The awards our town has amassed and it’s all about our teachers and programs. If you like sports we have every sport for a family to play. Right now for girls field hockey and lacrosse is hot. I can easily say you cannot find enough time for all the wonderful things Westportnhas to offer.

    As for the traffic-the is clearing out trees and improving the barriers on the Merritt. With all
    Construction it takes time and slows
    Down traffics. At some time soon, it will end.

    You can weigh an extra time in your car with how much your life will change in Westport. It will be a wonderful move and you will be very happy once you get settled. Westport is wonderful.

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Work from home Bubba!!!

  8. Beth Berkowitz

    As far as your concerns about the commute, it will be long depending on your flexibility regarding times you can leave work and arrive at work. I have found most days that if you are on the Merritt Parkway at exit 42 before 7:10 am the traffic moves around 50mph+. When I hit the Merritt after 7;15 it is very slow. Coming home depending on the day, the worst traffic is from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm give or take a half hour. If you leave tarry town around 6:00 it should be fine most of the trip back. I used to work in white plains and I often go back and forth now to Stamford and GREENWICH from either Merritt exits 42 or 41 and sometime from I 95 from exits 16/17. We have lived in weston and now live in Westport. The construction on the Merritt is the worse for traffic after 8:00 pm thru the overnight when they close down at least one lane in each direction between new Canaan and Westport. That can’t last forever. The waze ap is great to help you navigate back roads because of traffic, but back roads even without the traffic take long because you are driving thru neighborhoods and have stop signs and lights and they typically are narrow and winding. I can take back roads from Weston thru Wilton and new Canaan to Stamford to either Greenwich or pound ridge or some other westchester towns, but it doesn’t really save time, it’s just more pleasant an experience and pretty surroundings.

    I do think you will love it here in WESTPORT though once you settle in and find what works best for your schedule and family. It’s a wonderful place to live and the people are wonderful! As stated above, there is plenty to do and it’s a great place to raise a family. The commute wears on everyone, but if you can figure it out, it’s worth it! Good luck with your decision.

  9. Bill, it can’t be worth it. There are beautiful places everywhere; look for them near work and don’t grind your life away for the sake of a beach a few days a year. mmm

  10. As you review your options Please take a ride by Levitt Pavilion where they host 50 free concerts in the summer and 2 extra ones that costs just a few dollars. This year Orleans and Little River Band played-fantastic. Sit on lawn chairs, have a picnic and listen to music. Right in the main part of our town.

    Also stop by Staples, one of the best public high schools in the nation. I strongly suggest getting a course catalogue, you will be amazed to see all the different classes offered-from TV production to indept classes on American History. Scan thru it and imagine your children having these options.

    Then remember you are learning about Westport with the help of 06880 blog. This open platform keeps all of us informed. Our political system works in Westport with everyone having the chance to know what is going on-thru 06880. I don’t think there is another town around us that has this valuable service. And then look at how our taxes have been steady the last few years. Not many towns can say that.

    As you debate the extra minutes going back and forth, please add in the great life you will have in Westport. An active town with so much to do, offering so much to your family. They will be truly thankful you were willing to move.

    Best of luck.

  11. Bill, I hate to have to agree with everyone, but I did a commute down to Rye a few years ago. The best time to leave was 645am before the school buses started and the traffic built on the Merritt. I left work at 430pm to try to beat the traffic. That said, a wonderful ride through the countryside can be done to beat the traffic, but the commute is nearly the same time-wise. One convoluted way home might be from Tarrytown, the Saw Mill North to to 684 North, to RTE 35 East to Ridgefield, then 33 south to where it merges onto 7 South. At the corner of 106 and RTE 7/35, make a left. Follow 106 to 53 North/EAST (its counter -intuitive but check a map). Go Right on Newtown Turnpike, left on Broad Street, right on RTE 57 South.That will take you to Exit 42 of Merritt. Bring some good tunes on your IPHONE and get a Prius.

  12. Buy a nice car, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it.

  13. As a regular commuter up until a year ago, I learned quickly to avoid the Merritt (or 95 after exit 15.) I found the back road alternatives and became pretty adept at skipping seven or eight exits (Wolfpit Road/Rte 106, for example). Seek them out from your friends and coworkers.

  14. Thank you everyone for your comments. We first started looking to leave Greenwich due to their lacking elementary (if not in Riverside or OG) and middle schools. They’re not below average or anything, but we sought out something better for our daughter. We first looked in New Canaan but found the town lacking many activities, a sub par downtown, and obviously, the town is land locked. This lead us to Westport. We fell in love immediately. Hopefully the home side of it works out.

    For work, I need to get to Tarrytown by 8:30AM everyday. I usually leave work at 6PM. On Mon, Thurs, Fri I have to bring my wife to the train so she can catch the 7:19AM from GF. I suppose it doesn’t make any sense to drive all the way back to the Merritt from there. So maybe I get on Rt 1 from GF station at 7:20AM and take that to 95 or Merritt (whichever is clearer)? The other options seem to be Rt 1->123->Exit 38. Or Rt 1->33->106->Exit 36.

    On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’ll try and leave at 7-7:15am from exit 42. I don’t have to drop the wife off at the train. I should get in around 8:10-8:15AM, or maybe 8AM, by some minor miracle.

  15. Bill, if you choose to do the long drive, my wife has one word of advice: “audiobooks.” (And the Westport library has a fabulous selection.) Your trip will seem relatively short.

  16. Beth Berkowitz

    You also may find that it’s better for your wife to use uber on those days to the train station, as getting on 95 at that point is still going to be better than taking route 1 at that time of the morning or she will find it better to also take a slightly earlier train from Westport to help your commute too.

    There are options.

    • Take 95 after dropping her off?

      • Beth Orlan Berkowitz

        Yes, because it will still be better than the traffic at that time on route 1. But whatever you decide, good luck with it all. If you decide to move here I’m sure you will figure out what works best for your family, by trying several different options.

  17. Whatever route you take, best of luck. And although I may have started the negative “train” of comments, life is Westport is really great, as Bart says, for so many reasons. From the Fourth of July at compo, to winter evenings at the playhouse. Westport has a wealth of activities. Enjoy!

  18. Any commute is possible with right collection of podcasts.

  19. Joanne Kletecka

    I did the commute to Westchester for several years. It’s not fun, but you somehow get used to it, and the benefits of living in Westport offset the negative aspects of commuting. The only things I will add that may prove helpful…listen to traffic and weather reports, use a gps system or app for those times where you may have to take an alternate route, and for your wife, there is a commuter bus to the train station that may be useful. Good luck!

  20. Hey Bill, Good question and generally speaking some very good advice. I moved to Westport in 1973 and have spent, off and on, 35 years commuting from Westchester to Westport…..still am, in fact. About 5 of those years I commuted to Tarrytown. Generally speaking the traffic is worse in the past few years, in part because of the tree cutting and construction. But the biggest increase is likely because more people are commuting to Stamford than in the old days.

    Getting on the road in the morning close to 7 should take you no more than the 50 minutes. Nights will likely be more like an hour to hour and 10 when leaving before 6, better after 6. I know just about every shunpike alternative along the Merritt. Probably do not save any time, but there is some satisfaction just moving and not feeling hemmed in. And Thursday nights have become the worst…Thursdays are the new Fridays it seems as a big chunk of the cars are from NY, NJ and other places suggesting people heading deeper into New England for a long weekend.

    Bottomline, it has been worth it. A great place to live that offers so much.
    Hope you land here and, more important, you end up feeling the same way.

  21. Dick Lowenstein

    Until the state and Feds get serious about public transportation to alleviate the problem, it is only going to get worse. There’s talk about widening I-95, but it ain’t going to happen, as long as the Merritt is treated like a sacred cow. Improvements are needed on both roads; for example, making the Super 7/Merritt connection a four-way intersection.

    • Dick-the Governor already did a big transportation project that has been called…the bus to nowhere. It’s laughable-but this is how he takes it seriously.

      It’s 9-mile stretch of highway that was built at a cost of $567 million. Connects New Britain to Hartford.

      From the Stamford Advocate “Here’s some arithmetic to ponder: $567 million divided by 3,650 days (10 years including weekends) comes to $155,342 per day. How many buses carrying how many passengers is the state projecting for this bus-only lane?”

      We spent this money while the state is basically broke-you know-we have $100 BILLION in pension and other obligations. But this is how he takes transportation seriously in our state.

  22. Late to the party – a 50 minute commute? Do you know how many Westporters would be jealous of that? Good luck! FWIW, road construction issues all over the place SEEM to me to be the worst that they have have been in twenty years – so they can only get better, eh?