By Claire Walla
It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start.
When Noyac residents gathered two weeks ago at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center to discuss their distaste for the 2011 plan to calm traffic on Noyac Road, one of the many ideas tossed out from the crowd was a measure to limit commercial truck traffic on that strip of roadway between North Sea and Sag Harbor Village.
And at a Southampton Town board meeting last Tuesday, April 10, board members unanimously agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter. (This will take place Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m.)
The idea was pushed by a handful of people at that Noyac community meeting, but it’s an idea Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said goes back a good number of years.
“There’s just been such an explosion of traffic on that road,” she said.
The effort to limit trucks was brought about in earnest in 2004 when the town conducted a hamlet study of Noyac. In addition to the current traffic issues concentrated on the curl in the road near Cromer’s Market, the frequency of large, 18-wheeler trucks along the narrow, single-lane, shoulder-less roadway was of concern.
“When you live here, after a while you become blasé about it,” said Noyac resident Chuck Neuman, who is also the former president of the Noyac Civic Council. “But, when you think about it, it’s a quality of life issue. I live about 500 feet away from the road, and when [trucks] break, I hear it!”
According to the current draft of the law, the measure (if enacted) would ban all commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds that aren’t traveling Noyac Road for a pre-approved purpose. School busses and delivery trucks with designated stops on Noyac Road would be allowed, for example. But commercial trucks using Noyac Road as an alternative route to Highway 27 would be banned, and subject to fines.
Throne-Holst said the reason why this measure was largely overlooked in the past is because the original plan included the construction of weigh stations in order to regulate truck traffic. These would cost a pretty penny to implement, and the thought made many residents pessimistic of the town actually going through with putting such a structure in Noyac, or North Sea.
But Throne-Holst said the current plan is for this new law to be upheld by law enforcement.
In addition to the issue with weigh stations, Throne-Holst added that there was some skepticism surrounding the viability of a plan to enforce traffic restrictions without the town implementing a comprehensive, town-wide plan for traffic. While this is still waiting in the rafters of town hall, Throne-Holst said she hopes this might be the start of an effort to create a town-wide transportation plan. But, even so, she said Noyac Road is “well situated” for the proposed ban on commercial trucking.
According to town records, there are currently several roadways in the town of Southampton that limit commercial truck traffic—most of them small side roads—including Hildreth and Carroll streets streets in Sag Harbor. And, as Supervisor Throne-Holst pointed out, many smaller roads that lead in to Noyac Road currently impose trucking restrictions, which would make it a bit easier and even logical to regulate traffic on Noyac Road.
Noyac resident Linda Heine has been at the helm of efforts to control traffic out in front of Cromer’s Market. As the owner and operator of the Whalebone Gift Shop in that same shopping complex, Heine has held strong opinions of the various plans the town has put forth in an effort to take traffic-calming measures.
After expressing a deep dissatisfaction with the town’s most recently proposed effort to increase traffic safety near her store—plans which included cutting off access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road and creating several concrete medians—Heine said she was pleased the town seemed poised to scale back.
“I really appreciate the fact that Supervisor Throne-Holst was willing to re-think it and look at alternatives,” she said this week.
Of the concept of banning commercial truck traffic, Heine said, “it’s a very interesting thought.” She admitted the volume of large trucks on Noyac Road is an issue, even pointing out that in the span of just a few minutes last Tuesday morning, she counted four large trucks zoom passed her house, which sits on Noyac Road.
However, she admitted the issue is not at the forefront of her thoughts at the moment. She said she’s not sure the measure will directly affect the need for calming traffic.
“No matter what kind of vehicles you have on Noyac Road, the whole key to traffic-calming is slowing traffic down,” she said.