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Petition Says Guardrail’s Gotta Go

Posted on 25 June 2014


 A petition drive is seeking to have new guardrails removed from a stretch of Short Beach and Long Beach roads, her Bay Point. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Sagaponack has its bridge, East Hampton its utility poles, and now Bay Point has its guardrails.

Just as residents of Sagaponack have opposed plans to upgrade the old bridge over Sagg Pond and East Hampton residents are up in arms over PSEG’s replacement of utility poles with much larger ones, so too are some residents who say they want the Suffolk County Department of Public Works to remove new guardrails that were installed just two weeks ago along a stretch of Short Beach and Long Beach roads near Bay Point.

“When I heard they were putting up the guardrail, I was mortified,” said James Perry of Sag Harbor, who has collected more than 200 signatures on a petition drive on seeking to have them removed.  “Almost unanimously everyone came back to me and said, ‘I can’t believe this. It’s horrendous.’”

“You couldn’t have a road that is more appropriate for recreational use,” he said of the stretch that is also known as Country Route 60. “It’s close to the village, very scenic, and it’s a flat road, which makes it good for rollerblading, running, cycling or whatever.”

“It’s particularly beautiful, one of the most beautiful spots on Long Island,”  said the artist April Gornik, a resident of North Haven, who has been assisting Mr. Perry in his effort. “I hadn’t been on Long Beach for awhile when this happened or I would have gone ballistic.”

Mr. Perry and Ms. Gornik said they have taken their concerns to County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride and North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander.

But Bill Colavito, the director of highway design for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, said people should not be holding their breath for the guardrail’s removal.

“I’m not going to dismiss anyone who is upset, and I apologize to them if they don’t like the project, but I have to look out for the greater good of everybody using that road,” he said. “There’s no chance that guiderail is coming down.”

Mr. Perry said he objected to the guardrails because they both spoil the view and unintentionally make the road less safe for pedestrians and cyclists by encouraging motorists to drive faster and creating a barrier that could cause serious injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian if they were struck by a car and pushed against the guardrail.

“I’ve heard of separating pedestrians from traffic with a guardrail,” he said, “but the idea of trapping them on the same side is novel to me.”

William Hillman, the chief engineer for the county’s Department of Public Works, in an email to County Legislator Schneiderman said the county “does not share the same view, that the guardrail decreases safety to non-motorized users.”

Mr. Colavito said the county has been planning to install the guardrail since 2010. In planning such projects, he added, the county relies on the handbook of the American Association for State Highway Officials, which provides strict guidelines relating to average speed, curves and other factors like the location of hazards, such as water, when deciding where guardrails should go.

“When you factor all these things in, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

But Ms. Gornik said the work “smacks of a make-work project” she could only find one record of a serious accident occurring on the road and that occurred last summer when a landscaping truck was driven off the road and onto rocks when the driver of an oncoming car veered into his lane. “There was no public hearing, no notice to the residents, ” she added.

“Nobody likes to see this sort of thing, but it is a county road there, and they have to do what they have to do to protect the public,” said Legislator Schneiderman, “and they undertook a whole series of tests to justify this project.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he doubted the county would be persuaded to remove the guardrails even though Ms. Gornik said opponents have offered to pay the cost of having them removed.

“I’m not getting overwhelmed with objections,” he said. “It’s not a riot like there was with the utility poles in East Hampton.”

Mr. Perry conceded that guardrail opponents were perhaps not that well organized—yet. “We have very strong community support,” he said, “but so far we are lacking a way for channeling that feeling into action.”

“It’s not the first time I’ve done something where people are upset. It’s nice to deal with people who care about their community,” said Mr. Colavito.  “Over time—give it a couple of weeks—they’ll start looking past it.”

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13 Responses to “Petition Says Guardrail’s Gotta Go”

  1. Tim says:

    What problem is the guardrail addressing ? Seems like a waste of money that will leave that stretch of road more dangerous, not less.

  2. Village Resident says:

    How can they justify not seperating the pedestrians from the traffic? Seems like a plan developed by someone who has never traveled the road.

  3. ChrisM says:

    The guard rails have ruined the scenic nature of that section of Long Beach Rd. It has instilled an urban look.

  4. April Gornik says:

    I hope more people become aware of the blight this represents, and yes, the safety hazard. Please sign the petition, which is at

  5. Robert Riskin says:

    I fail to see how guardrails make conditions more dangerous. I don’t see them as harmful at all. As for scenic destruction, they don’t interfere with the view of the bay nor of the cove.

  6. Ellen Dioguardi says:

    I’ll never not see those ugly things – can’t believe Calavito says anyone will start looking past them. What a travesty – such a great stretch of road – wonderful view, great for everyones use – now, you see metal and not the view, drivers will be encouraged to speed up – just in time to hit the mess at Cromers designed to slow them down. I simply don’t get it. Complete boondoggle.

  7. E.M. Maxx says:

    OMG people this is not quaint little Sag Harbor anymore ….. Get over it …. The guard rails are offensive ????? How about Main St Sag Harbor ? It’s a nightmare all summer ….And how about the rudeness we all encounter …? Why are all the Fire departments looking for people ? Because many real LOCALS had to move away thus no more volunteers ……..Why do they have to move away ? Because they CANT AFFORD TO LIVE HERE ANYMORE !!!!!!! The guardrails are the LEAST of any real problem out here….I’m just so sick of prissy rich people crying about the “view” …… Yes when I want to stroll down main st in the summer to possibly get an ice cream cone I have to 1. Circle for 25 min to get a parking spot
    2. Prepare to spend at least $20
    3. Stand in line with some of the most obnoxious people on the planet
    It’s all just so disgusting …. Oh ps the new Parrish Art Museum ….. Ruined the otherwise beautiful view of an open field ……… That thing is freaking hideous !!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Tim says:

    With respect:
    Maxx: Maybe you should relocate ? Live it or live with it, as they say. You hate it here and it ain’t gonna change.
    Riskin: You ask what is the increased danger ? Less room for pedestrians and bikes than before. Possibility of trapping them between a vehicle and the guardrail. More danger to vehicles hitting and bouncing off the guardrail and then into other vehicles, than if they simply ran off the road into the sand or salt marsh or even recovered in time with no damage at all. I remember running off the race track at Bridgehamton into the sand with no harm at all.
    There have been no previous accidents in this stretch so what problem is being addressed and why were the tax dollars spent ? Who makes these decisions and what influences them ?
    Just sayin’…
    Thanks – that’s it for me.

  9. Ginny Vale says:

    We don’t like change in Sag Harbor.
    What did this cost? Could the money have been better spent on somthing relevant? This is poor goverment and clearly the morons are in charge!!!

  10. E.M. Maxx says:

    Clearly Tim, you did not understand my post … As for whomever “they ” are ,I never heard the saying ” live it or live with it ” …..? But I guess we could apply that to the guardrails … As for the suggestion to relocate : sadly I have to , like many locals from families that go back generations ….. Do you comprehend why the fire depts. are in desperate need of volunteers ? The guardrails are just the beginning … My point is this once quiet town is now a hellhole because of the wealthy pushing everyone out . Do you remember the Metaphysical Book store ? I was appalled at the hideous new facade where there was once a cute red door ….. Now it’s a ” high end” clothing store that sells ugly overpriced ” high fashion” ….So I guess I should expect some of the non locals to join the Fire Dept. for the summer right .? Will all the fancy people be prepared to drop their hors d’oeuvres when the fire alarm goes off ……..

  11. S kaufman says:

    Seems to be a $olution looking for a problem. Like someone said, it’s a make-work project. Surprised at Schneiderman’s stance – says to me someone powerful that he doesn’t want to upset is behind it.
    Wasn’t the problem, assuming there ever was one, resolved when the speed limit was reduced a few years back?
    Reminds me of when someone came up with the idea to $olve another non-problem and made it worse: flatten the natural triangular barrier at Stony Hill and Brickiln – where there was no issue – and put lots of concrete around. Then shortly after that, there was the first and only fatal accident there.
    In a similar vein, I predict there wil now be serious accidents at Cromer’s. Going east, I stress of softening the curve, they made it closer to a 90 degree turn now. It will be difficult to navigate. And no soft grassy buffer, no forgiving surface, there are now high concrete curbs to ricochet off of.
    Much more dangerous. But kudos for those who yearned for a more suburban look with all that concrete. I suppose that was the purpose?

  12. E.M. Maxx says:

    Ooohhh so no more comments from the prissy rich folk that want the ” view ruining “guardrails removed. Must be nice to have so much extra cash in your pockets to offer to pay to remove them ! Makes me sick when so many people live paycheck to paycheck ! You people should be ashamed!!!!!!!!!!

  13. andrea fagin says:

    the accident that precipitated the guardrails being put up was that of a landscape driver veering off the road because a car was comng towards him in his lane. He veeered off the road down the shallow embankment into the water (about 1 foot of water)to avoid hitting the oncoming car.
    If there had been a guardrail he wouldn’t have been able to do that and the driver of the car probably would have been killed. We are not dealing with cliffs and 100 foot drops. What are the guardrails protecting us from?
    As for bicyclists and joggers, they now have to be in the middle of the bike lane closer to traffic, as opposed to being further to the right side of the lane further from traffic.

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