Noyac Road has become a dangerous place, members of the bicycle advocacy group Spokespeople said on Tuesday evening. For members of the Noyac Civic Council, it was stating the obvious.
The groups came together during the civic council’s regular monthly meeting held at the Bridgehampton National Bank community room, and together they bemoaned the state of the road, and even debated who owned it: Suffolk County or Southampton Town. Chief among their complaints, however, was the liability it poses to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Spokespeople’s Dennis Loebs read a letter telling a harrowing tale of a cyclist who was severely injured after being struck by a car on Noyac Road earlier this year. The man, said Loebs, remembered being sprawled across the hood the car after being hit but then didn’t remember anything until he was airlifted out in a helicopter. He broke his clavicle, several ribs, a shoulder and other bones.
The road was underserved by traffic control measures, observed the cyclist in his letter, and he warned things could get worse if authorities didn’t take action. Loebs added his organization would like to work with the civic council to initiate traffic calming efforts along Noyac Road.
“Traffic becomes slower and safer and everybody benefits,” Loebs predicted.
Fellow Spokespeople member Spencer Wright agreed, and observed earlier in the meeting that “Noyac Road was never intended to be used the way it is today,” which has had great implications for the cycling community and the community at large.
“Noyac is really held back by the way Noyac Road is used,” Wright opined.
One council member observed that trying to get onto Noyac Road from Pine Neck Road is “nearly impossible,” and suggested putting a stop sign near Cromer’s Market to slow traffic.
Spokespeople member Sinead FitzGibbon said traffic calming efforts don’t have to be extravagant to be effective, and she suggested construction might not always be necessary: “It can be very simple, maybe just painting.” She added that making Noyac Road more attractive to cyclists will also have an impact on vehicular traffic.
“When drivers see and become conscious of non-motorized vehicles, drivers will acknowledge them and slow down,” observed FitzGibbon.
Council member Walter Tice cautioned the group, however, wondering what the impact on the larger community would be.
“If you restrict the use of heavy traffic, where does it go,” asked Tice. “That has to be considered.”
Loebs proposed having an independent traffic engineer study the road and make suggestions for improvements, and suggested the town take the road over from Suffolk County, which would enhance local control of the roadway, and possibly limit the size of vehicles allowed on the road.
“Some plans have been suggested but have met opposition out of the gate,” he said. “But we’d like to bring the Noyac Civic Council on board and maybe have better success with the town.
“How can the civic council help,” asked member Elena Loreto.
“We’d like to hear your thoughts on this,” said Wright.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Southampton Town Councilwoman, and supervisor candidate, Anna Throne-Holst filled the council in on the economic affairs at town hall. For the better part of this year, the town has been investigating a colossal accounting problem that is expected to reveal millions in deficits. And responding to the hopes of the previous speakers to construct a bike lane along Noyac Road, was not terribly optimistic.
“Your biggest competitor for attention is Scuttlehole Road, and one of our biggest hopes was to put a bike lane there,” said Throne-Holst, who told the council she was a cyclist herself. But added LIPA “left a wretched job behind” when it buried a series of power lines, and intimated the cost of fixing the road will be the town’s burden.
Beside, she said, “the bike fund was pretty much emptied by the time we got into the financial debacle at town hall.”
That debacle, said Throne-Holst, has cost the town over $120,000 in outside auditors already, a sum she said was “expensive, but money well spent.” The total amount of the deficit has yet to be calculated, but Throne-Holst said residents can expect it to be between $7-$10 million in the capital fund, and about $3 million in the general operating fund.
Throne-Holst also said the board has been deliberating how it will make up the deficit.
“How do we pay that? Do we tax you in one fell swoop, or finance it over a period of time,” asked the councilwoman. She said until the economy has turned around, she is not prepared to lift the five-percent tax cap the town must operate under.