Tag Archive | "tom neely"

Gregor Offers Noyac Road Update to Civic Council

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on Tuesday said he was optimistic a long awaited construction project on Noyac Road at Cromer’s Market should be completed by the end of June.

Speaking to the Noyac Civic Council, Mr. Gregor said PSEG Long Island had finished moving electric lines serving the area to new poles and that he was waiting for Cablevision and Verizon to move their lines. Verizon crews will then be in charge of removing the old utility poles before DeLalio Construction begins to work on the road itself.

“Since we had such a hard winter, we had a hard time getting the utilities motivated,” said Mr. Gregor, who added that he hoped that the poles would be moved by the end of this month. “The contractor will need two months to complete the project.”

The project is expected to improve traffic at a busy and dangerous curve, improve traffic circulation to Cromer’s and other businesses and side streets, and reduce stormwater runoff.

Mr. Gregor was joined at Tuesday’s meeting by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Councilwomen Christine Scalera and Brigid Fleming and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

The town officials also answered committee members’ questions on other topics, including deer and the East Hampton Airport, although Noyac Road took center stage.

Improving the short stretch of road has proven to be a controversial project. First proposed seven years ago, the project went through numerous changes before ground was finally broken this year.

Mr. Gregor said that it had already been decided that Noyac Road is too busy even during the offseason for any work to be done on the weekends. Crews will work five days a week, he said, and try to keep two lanes open at all times. He said he expected the project to be wrapped up by the end of June, but if weather, or some other situation slows work and traffic becomes “too horrendous,” crews will not work on Mondays and Fridays during the latter stages of the project, to reduce traffic tieups around busy weekends.

Despite the fact that the project has been discussed for years, some council members said they were concerned it would not do much to improve traffic on the curve.

Glenn Paul said the new layout, which would require vehicles entering and leaving Cromer’s to do so at either end of the store’s parking lot, would result in tie-ups and more congestion.

“Do you think that will alleviate accidents at that spot?” he asked.

“That’s what we’re working on,” replied Mr. Gregor. “There has been some skepticism, but we think this is an improvement.

The highway superintendent said he expected a newly designed drainage system would dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater that runs down Bay Avenue and Dogwood and Elm Streets to the bay.

Mr. Gregor said he was pleased to report that he road work would cost about $521,000, well below initial estimates of $780,000 or more.

Other council members asked if a major repaving project on Montauk Highway from Southampton to East Hampton might result in traffic being diverted to Noyac Road, but Mr. Neely said there were no such plans, and he added that he expected contraction crews to have made their way through Bridgehampton, moving eastward, within three weeks.

Dorothy Frankel said she was happy to see the Cromer’s corner being dealt with, but said the time had come to do something to reduce speeding along the rest of Noyac Road. She suggested reducing the speed limit, adding lane dividers at key places or even designating part of the shoulders as bicycle lanes.

The only solution, Mr. Gregor said, was for the town to either increase the number of police enforcing the speed limit, which he said would provide spotty coverage, or installing a speed limit camera that would record a vehicle’s speed, take a photo of its license plate automatically generate a ticket.

Ms. Throne Holst said the town has requested that such cameras be placed along Noyac Road, but said that they are only legal in New York State in school zones.

“Speed cameras, we think, would be the perfect solution for Noyac Road,” she said, “Once you get that picture of your license in the mail and a whopping ticket, you start to notice it.”

 

Town Considers Limiting Truck Size On Noyac Rd.

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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.

Back to the Drawing Board For Noyac Road

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Noyac Road, Tom Neely adjusted

By Claire Walla


“I think this is the largest community meeting of this kind that I have been to in my four-plus years in office,” exclaimed Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst as she looked out at more than 100 faces at a Noyac Civic Association meeting last Wednesday, March 28.

The public had turned out en masse at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center to weigh in on the town’s most recent version of a plan to reconstruct Noyac Road. Twenty-eight people spoke that evening, and all but one was adamantly opposed to the current 2011 plan detailing new traffic-calming measures to be implemented at the bend in the road near Cromer’s Market in Noyac.

Above: Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely addressed a packed house last Thursday at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center.

Complaints mostly hinged on the scale of the town’s blueprint, which most residents agreed was much too extreme for their bayside neighborhood.

“Of all the plans I’ve seen, this is about the worst,” said Ralph Dispigna. “If you want to destroy a neighborhood, this is the way to do it.”

Tony Lawless, who owns and operates Cromer’s Market, echoed most of the sentiments that night, saying the current plan would create more traffic, causing cars to drive into Pine Neck to avoid congestion.

“On any given day I could have three tractor-trailers pulling into here,” he said, pointing to the proposed parking lot, where the 2011 blueprint calls for a stop sign to be implemented. “Do we need tractor-trailers driving in here [Pine Neck] because they can’t get in here?”

He continued, “Elm Street is one of the narrowest roads in Pine Neck and you’re diverting all the traffic onto it.”

According to a survey drafted and tallied by the Noyac Civic Association (84 people responded to 350 surveys which were sent out) 56 percent of respondents said “No,” the 2011 plan does not accomplish its mission. And an even greater number of respondents, 65 percent, felt the plan would “change the rural character of Noyac.”

.Ultimately, when asked point blank whether they were in favor of the 2011 plan, 64 percent of respondents voted “No,” versus only 27 percent who voted “Yes.”

Noyac resident Jim Posner said he felt the town should “respect the survey.”

“We’re not engineers, but the surface of it shows that we’re against it,” he added.

Like many, he said speed bumps and stop signs — part of what he called “the ‘let’s take it easy’ approach” — would be a much better solution than concrete barriers.

“If we did step one, then we could see how it worked,” he continued, and if it doesn’t, “then we could go into a fancier plan.”

Ultimately, after listening to many reactions from community members, Throne-Holst submitted that the current plan would need to change.

“I think what we’re hearing first and foremost is that this is overkill,” she said. “We have to take a giant step backward.”

The effort to improve the bend in Noyac Road near Cromer’s was first established on a town-wide level eight years ago when a 2004 Hamlet Study identified the potential dangers on that stretch of pavement. A year later, the town’s first conceptual plan for reconstruction involved adding a concrete barrier between the road and a proposed parking area in front of the commercial businesses on the north side of the street.

The plan also called for blocking access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road, making it only accessible via Elm Street.

Six different iterations of the original plan surfaced over the years — all of them blown-up into large color posters, which peppered the walls of the Nutrition Center last week — the last of which seems to have brought on the most controversy.

The 2011 Conceptual Plan, like the original, proposes adding a concrete median between newly created parking spaces, in front of The Whalebone and Cromer’s Market, which wraps around Bay Avenue, cutting off direct access to the neighborhood. Like the original plan, cars would be forced to access Bay Avenue from Noyac Road by first turning onto Elm Street, then taking a right onto Bay.

Keith Schumann, who said he was representing the next generation of Noyac residents and just so happened to be a former traffic engineer, said he, too, believed the 2011 plan was too drastic.

This plan also requires cutting into the triangle-shaped property where Bay and Elm join — a piece of land belonging to Whalebone owner Linda Heine. Even though the town has drafted plans that build over that patch of dirt, Heine said last week that she was “offended” by the town’s intent to build over it.

“That piece of property is owned by my family,” she told the crowd. “I was told it wouldn’t be touched unless we wanted to give it away.” And, she said, they don’t. (Throne-Holst later stated that the triangular piece of land would not have to be touched in order to implement traffic-calming measures.)

Heine said she preferred the 2009 Plan over the 2011 iteration, saying it was much more “friendly.”

Resident John Anderson, who has lived in Noyac for 50 years, didn’t object to any of the statements made that night. Rather, he simply called for action.

“Sometimes, backing out of those spaces [at Cromer’s], you’ve gotta say your prayers!” he exclaimed.

“We’ve been talking about this problem off-and-on for 10 years,” he continued. “And I’ve seen faces here I’ve never seen before. My great concern is that we’re going to spend another 10 years talking about it.”

He paused before continuing, making his message was loud and clear.

“For crying out loud, let’s fix it,” he exclaimed, making no attempt to contain his passion. “Can the powers that be make some decisions?”

According to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, the town is now hoping to implement striping, rumble strips or stop signs before the start of the summer season. While the supervisor is also exploring the idea of preventing commercial trucks from traversing Noyac Road, an idea some in the audience seemed to favor, he said this is something that would take a lot longer to implement and would require an additional public hearing and a resolution by the board.

MTA Hopes to Implement Some of SEEDS Study Before 2015

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By Claire Wall


Do you remember when you could see a flicker of light at the end of the Long Island Rail Road tunnel?

Well, according to those integrally linked to the future of transportation here on the East End, it may be faint, but it’s still there.

It’s been 10 years since local transportation experts banned together under the leadership of the New York Mass Transit Council (NYMTC) to create SEEDS: Sustainable East End Development Strategies. And while not much has been said of the plan since it came to a conclusion in 2005, those at the helm of the effort believe change is afoot.

“I’m optimistic,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. of the possibility of increasing rail service between Patchogue and Montauk. He noted that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has already allotted $80 million in its capital plan for 2010 – 2015 for small diesel trains, called “scoot trains,” that would be added to rail lines to increase the frequency of train service in the east.

What’s more, as Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely pointed out, the MTA has also reserved $50 million in its five-year capital plan to create an electronic signal system on the South Fork. One of the biggest issues responsible for the infrequency of train travel between Patchogue and Montauk, Neely explained, is that train operators on this leg of the LIRR track are in “dark territory”: they’re not in communication with one another, so two trains headed for each other on the same track would have no way of knowing they’re aiming for collision.

“It’s the same way they did it 150 years ago,” he exclaimed.

While funding is only really targeted for this service at this point and is not a total guarantee, Thiele continued by saying, for him, seeing this support from the MTA “is a step in the right direction.”

It also helps, Thiele continued, that the newly elected Suffolk County Legislator Steve Bellone “has endorsed all of this,” having made transportation his number one East End issue on the campaign trail.

“We’ve had the most support we’ve ever had on this,” he added.

Comprising nearly five years of research, the SEEDS study lays out comprehensive plans for both sustainable growth in terms of population and infrastructure, and increasing the frequency and efficiency of public transportation on the East End. In the end, the two go hand-in-hand. In building up village and hamlet centers to be high-density and therefore low-impact, this would create opportunities on the East End for implementing transit centers.

Neely pointed to the new development plan at the Bulova building in Sag Harbor as a good example of sustainable growth. Because it aims to create high density residences in a downtown area, “it’s a very good example of a development that can make good use of public transportation,” he said.

Recognizing the problems with scant train service on the East End and the subsequent absence of a coordinated bus system, the SEEDS study ultimately resulted in two plans aimed at increasing train travel to and from the East End, Neely said.

The system would ideally function with inter-modal transportation hubs. After restoring train service to Calverton and Grabeski Airport, Neely said there would be at least five major inter-modal hubs (linking train and bus services) throughout the East End: East Hampton and Southampton Villages, Hampton Bays and downtown Riverhead. The SEEDS study also discussed the need for a water taxi between the North and South Forks, which would necessitate an inter-modal transportation hub in Greenport, as well.

“To move forward we would need strong political report,” said Neely, who played a significant role in overseeing the SEEDS process. The transportation projects alone are estimated to cost more than $1 million to fully implement.

While he did say Congressman Tim Bishop had once requested $1 million in earmarked funds to continue this project, the poor economic climate has impacted the state’s ability to move forward in support of this.

“Earmarks are pretty much dead in the water at this point in Congress, “Neely said.

And while Assemblyman Thiele has also drafted two bills, one to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council and the other to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, he said legislators have thus far failed to act on either measure.

Ideally, Neely said the five towns of the East End — Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold — should work together to create a Transportation Development District, as NYMTC recommended. However, at this moment, nothing seems to be moving forward on that front.

While he continues to hope the MTA will pull through and put its money where its mouth is, in the meantime Neely said efforts to rebuild and construct the towns of the East End in environmentally sustainable ways will have to be done on a local level. Southampton Town, for example, has adopted a Complete Streets policy that will encourage new developments to consider adding bike lanes and sidewalks, for example, when repaving town roads.

In the end, Neely hopes legislators will continue to work to get state funding to act on the SEEDS plan.

“Anything would be better than what we have right now,” he continued. “Which is nothing.”

Southampton Town Eyes “Complete Streets”

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By Bryan Boyhan


Southampton Town wants to take a more wholistic approach to their streets.

“We want to look at roads as something more than carrying cars and trucks,” Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation, told members of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday night. “We want to look at our roads as carrying pedestrians and carrying bicyclists as well.”

Neely, who will introduce the town’s Complete Streets program at a town board work session tomorrow (Friday) morning, said the plan is to examine all possible uses for each of the town’s 450 miles of roadway as repair and maintenance work comes up. If a road needs resurfacing, for example, the town wants to see if it is reasonable to make adjustments to accommodate bicyclists or pedestrians, or make changes that make the road safer.

Studies have shown, said Neely, that adding a four-foot shoulder in some casdes reduces accidents, as does adding bike lanes.

The program “encourages the htown to look at it not as an afterthought,” said Neely, “but to look at it right up front.”

Neely said the town has considered developing a bike lane on Scuttle Hole Road, and added there has been some discussion about creating one on Noyac Road as well.

He conceded that adding one to Noyac Road would be less likely, noting that the rolling landscape and maintained properties close to the road would make it difficult.

“You’d probably be going into people’s bushes and front yards,” he said.

Neely also addressed questions about plans to improve Noyac Road in front of Cromer’s Market, a sore point in the community for some time.

“It’s been nine years,” said former NCC President Chuck Neuman.

Residents have worried about safety concerns at the intersection, and about a dozen different plans have been floated, but a consensus has not been reached on any of them.

“You’re saying we can’t move forward without speaking with one voice,” asked Janet Grossman. “Can you get all the plans together that we can look at?”

Neely said he would speak to the highway superintendent, but that town officials and consultants have reviewed all the plans in the past.

“There hasn’t been a decision that’s proven workable,” said Neely.

The Complete Streets presentation will be made at Southampton Town Hall on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

County Road 39 to Change

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According to supervisor Linda Kabot, the Southampton Town board needs to make a final decision on what will happen to County Road (CR) 39 – or the “funds will disappear.”

Last week, members of the town board met in a work session to discuss the Long Term Plan (LTP) for CR 39, all in agreement that they need to approve the interim plan that the county is suggesting, in order to comply with a January 2010 federal deadline.

Kabot’s goal on Friday was to get all the board members to co-sponsor a draft resolution, which affirms support for the Highway Improvement Plan, and provides Suffolk County with overall guidance for further development of a proposed LTP design concept.

The chief engineer from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, William Hillman, presented a “funding situation” to the Southampton Town Board in late November, explaining that the county will be making improvements to the eastern portion of CR 39 similar to those completed on the western portion of the road in 2007-2008 as part of an interim plan. These additional interim plan improvements will not affect a Long Term Plan, or the funding of it, either positively or negatively, according to Hillman.

On Friday, at a work session, the board members met with Tom Neely, Southampton Town Transportation and Traffic Safety Director, to finalize a resolution to approve the county’s changes to CR 39.

Some of the major changes planned for CR 39 include utilizing a median where possible, and the use of a center turn lane in place of the median in specific high left turn rate locations, such as those along the business corridor immediately west of Tuckahoe Lane. Other changes included in the plan are the creation of right turn lanes where feasible, and inclusion of roundabouts and creating shoulders where feasible. Also set out in the long-term plan are bus shelters and bus turnouts at sites coordinated with Suffolk County Transit.

Neely explained that funding for the LTP is in question because the federal “10 year rule” deadline will be reached in January 2010. In order to keep this project eligible for federal funding, by that date, the county has to begin acquisition of commercial and residential land along the shoulder areas and the planned roundabout at the intersection where Flying Point Road and Route 27 meet CR 39.

The goals of the LTP and changes to CR 39 are to improve safety, traffic flow, adjacent property access and roadway aesthetics. The draft resolution, which was being discussed at the work session on Friday states that intentions include minimizing the roadway width and takings as well as encourage the use of public transportation.

Neely explained that the LTP must be done in phases, and will take approximately five years to complete.

At the work session, Neely gave an update on what has occurred over the last few years in response to the changes along CR 39. He explained that the town held special public meetings with emergency services, the various Citizens Advisory Committees (CACs) and members of the police force in 2007. In February 2008, there was a broader meeting, in which the county and the town met with property owners along CR 39. At the meeting, the town was able to get “good feedback” according to Neely.

“We don’t want to be portrayed as not being supportive of this plan,” Kabot said on Friday about the LTP. She informed the room that the federal government is funding 80 percent of this $50 million project and “we don’t want that money to disappear,” she continued.

Neely gave explanations as to why all these topics have to be covered in the final plan. He said that the bus route along CR 39 – the S92 – is the second most popular bus route in the county.

Further he said, pedestrians and their safety is a major concern, for both business owners and traffic moving through the area. Pedestrians crossing CR 39 have been a great cause for concern, but so has the reduced number of pedestrians frequenting businesses along the road.

“It is even hard with the sidewalk that is there now,” councilwoman Nancy Graboski said.

“Which is why the long term plan is so critical,” Kabot responded, turning everyone’s attention back to the draft resolution on the table for discussion. “We don’t want to lose this money from the federal government.”

The supervisor also said that a big concern is for water connections for fire hydrants along the CR 39, adding them to both sides of the road. She said running a fire hose across the road would cause 30,000 vehicles to use an alternative route – old Montauk Highway – and could potentially stop traffic for three to four hours.

“But that will be costly,” she added.

“All this is, is a joint letter of the town board, saying that we support this,” Kabot said of the draft resolution.

If approved at the next town board meeting, the draft resolution will be sent to local politicians including Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., Senator Kenneth LaValle, and Congressman Tim Bishop.