By Claire Walla
When it comes down to it, 10,000 pounds isn’t really that much.
Sedans, SUVs and light-duty pick-up trucks would make the cut. But, according to Southampton Town Traffic Coordinator Tom Neely, heavy-duty pick-ups, larger vans, dump trucks and tractor-trailers would have to go.
That was cause for concern for many who came to Town Hall speak out on the issue of banning vehicles over 10,000 pounds at a Southampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday, April 24.
The proposed legislation, put forth by Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, would effectively prohibit vehicles over 10,000 pounds from driving along Noyac Road between County Road 39 and the Village of Sag Harbor. A few exemptions would include school buses and vehicles doing business on Noyac Road.
The legislation was put together in an effort to further address traffic-calming measures, which have been hotly debated for years with regard to Noyac Road, specifically the curve that runs along Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone Gift Store.
Discussions have mainly revolved around road repairs, like installing a concrete median or adding striping to get cars to slow down. But at a community meeting last month, which was attended by over 100 Noyac residents and every member of the Southampton Town Board, a couple of people brought up the ban.
“We were thinking about fuel-delivery trucks, ones that seem to use [Noyac Road] as a thoroughfare rather than a delivery route,” Throne-Holst said. She added that the major threat comes from the large trucks that tend to use Noyac Road to bypass traffic on Montauk Highway, and proceed to speed through the bayside hamlet.
“There’s risk and danger for oncoming traffic,” she said. Let alone the noise factor.
“The noise is significant,” said Bill Reilly, who lives on Oak Drive near Noyac Road. He explained that because road conditions have improved over the years, it’s effectively increased the amount of traffic caused by large trucks. While banning all trucks over 10,000 pounds might not be the solution—Reilly admitted that vehicles prohibited from driving down Noyac Road would just travel elsewhere—he said, “we’ve got a significant problem.”
However, the legislation, as it now stands, may have some unintended consequences, as members of the Sag Harbor community pointed out on Tuesday.
“If you took the trucks off Noyac Road, my opinion is that you would also increase the speed on Noyac Road,” said Mickey Valcich of garbage-collection company Mickey’s Carting.
East Hampton Highway Supervisor Steve Lynch added that prohibiting certain vehicles from using Noyac Road would add time onto their routes, which would be costly in the long-run.
John Tintle, who owns and operates the Sand Land Corporation, which has a facility on Mill Stone Road, agreed.
“The unintended consequences passed on to the tax payers would be enormous,” she said. Tintle explained that he already charges higher prices for deliveries that are further away because of fuel costs. By averting Noyac Road, and thus adding extra time onto truck routes, he said costs would inevitably rise.
And they would not only rise for those living in Southampton Town.
Jay Card, superintendent of highways for Shelter Island, and Jim Dougherty, Shelter Island Town Supervisor, both spoke out on the issue, saying it would make commuting on and off the island for commercial trucks very difficult.
“It would essentially cause us to go all the way to East Hampton to get back to Montauk Highway,” Card said.
“We basically think that in a soft economy like this, this is no time to be burdening our residents with additional costs,” Dougherty said.
Neely explained that the town used the 10,000-pound benchmark only because it had used that measurement in the past. He further noted that this would prohibit F350 trucks and Ram 3500 trucks from taking Noyac Road.
“If this were to go forward, looking at heavier weights would be something we’d want to put out there,” he said.
The other big issue is enforcement, a topic many speakers brought up.
Neely explained that in order enforce the law, police officers would be responsible for pulling vehicles over and physically checking the inside of the passenger door, where the maximum weight is listed. Officers would also be responsible for checking any documentation the driver might have to prove he or she is making a local delivery or service call.
“You would have to put a number of vehicles on that road to do enforcement,” said Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano. “And I guarantee that once you put this into effect, you’re going to get a lot of calls [from people saying], ‘there’s a truck on Noyac Road, do something about it.’”
Throne-Holst said she recognized there were many concerns, particularly for the business community. And while she said the town does not have accurate statistics on just how many of the vehicles that drive down Noyac Road are large trucks, she suggested the town put together a study in order to secure that information.
“In the end, we need some sort of understanding of what the actual traffic looks like there,” she said, adding that this is just one component of what she hopes will be a bigger plan. “What this town needs to do is a comprehensive truck route.”
The board closed the public hearing on Tuesday, but has opened up a 30-day comment period on the proposed legislation.