Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Jonas Hagen place cones for a trial of a traffic calming installation on Jermain Avenue. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.
By Stephen J. Kotz
A small band of traffic calming proponents, who had gathered at the intersection of Jermain and Oakland avenues in Sag Harbor on Monday afternoon, were practically giddy as they watched, car after car, truck after truck, slow down appreciably as they approached an array of orange traffic cones that had been placed in the middle of Jermain Avenue.
“Did you see that?” “Very good!” “That’s great!” were some of the comments offered up by John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor, Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, which will fund the project, and Jonas Hagen, a doctoral candidate in urban planning at Columbia University, who has been working with the two groups on an ambitious project to make Sag Harbor’s streets safer.
The traffic calming advocates, who brought their idea to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees last fall, expect to get the official green light to proceed with a pilot project targeting four intersections when the board meets on Tuesday, June 10, At 6 p.m.
Shortly after the group had placed the cones, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano arrived with a radar gun, which he had agreed to lend the group so they could find out if their anecdotal observations were accurate.
On Tuesday, Mr. Hagen reported that an hour long experiment that recorded the speed of 236 passing vehicles showed that with the cones in place, “the average speed reduction was 10 miles per hour, with an average of 30 mph with normal conditions and 20 mph with the cones.”
“I was definitely pleased at the 10-mile speed reduction,” said Mr. Hagen on Wednesday. “It’s a pretty good start.”
When the pilot project goes into effect, the plastic orange traffic cones will be replaced with planters—a couple of different options, including cement or terra cotta-colored plastic ones are being considered—and the pavement between them will be painted green. Crosswalks will also be painted on the pavement.
The group had originally targeted Jermain and Oakland, Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets and Jermain and Atlantic avenues near Pierson High School. For now, that intersection has been placed on hold because of logistical issues, but the group expects to replace it with another.
The group has been working with David Rhoades, a Sag Harbor civil engineer, on designing the intersections, so they will slow traffic without producing unintended bottlenecks. One of those occurred at the Main and John street corner, where the Sag Harbor Fire Department expressed concern about whether their ladder truck could navigate the corner without flattening a planter or two.
“We’re still working with the fire department on one of the intersections,” said Mr. Hagen, “but we think we fixed it. We both have the same goal in mind—and that’s safety.
“We have to make sure their vehicles can get through those intersections safely and at a speed that allows them to get to a fire, or a person who needs emergency service.”
The ultimate goal, Mr. Hagen said, is to make the village safer without making radical changes.
“Should a kid be able to walk around Sag Harbor without risking his or her life? Should a kid be able to walk around without a serious threat of being hit by a car?” he asked. “If we say, ‘yes,’ then we have to take responsibility for protecting that kid.”