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Even a Paved Parking Lot Can be Green

The Croton Harmon Rail Station has long been an important hub for Metro North commuter rail service connecting New York City with the Hudson River Towns as far north as Poughkeepsie. It is at Croton Harmon that the electric line ends, with diesel trains required to move passengers points north. Many express trains originate in Croton so that trips into New York City can be as short as 43 minutes, a ride that seems to fly by along the beautiful and ever changing Hudson River. The Croton Harmon Station has huge parking lots that serve not only the residents of the Village of Croton on Hudson but also commuters from surrounding communities where parking is more limited or there is no train service. Freight trains and Amtrak make use of this rail system as well.

One station north of Croton Harmon is the relatively new Cortlandt Station which replaced the very outdated Crugers and Montrose Stations about 10 years ago. Recently, station parking was expanded there by 730 spaces when Metro North took over a facility that had trained heavy equipment operators. The parking facility also features a new extension on the pedestrian overpass that ties the original station east of the tracks with a new entrance on the west side off Route 9A and a landscaped, canopy covered drop-off plaza. Other commuter amenities are offered as well.

Efforts were made to create the parking lot using “green” building techniques. The site drainage improvements included a creation of a large open detention pond planted with native wetland species. Ideally, sediment-filled water will settle out at the pond before wending its way through local streams to the Hudson River. Station light fixtures were selected for their high efficiency, the restroom was designed to function like a mini-eco system and the elevator is gearless, thereby eliminating hydraulic oil and its storage while using half the electricity of less “green” models. For those of us with hybrid cars, there are 12 special prime-location parking spaces.

As the area looks at its economic recovery, it is the rail towns that seem to be rebounding first. The trains have been a part of our lives and landscape for so long, it is hard to imagine how different life might have been without them, the powerful link delivering us to the huge metropolis of which we are a part.

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