Tag Archive | "traffic"

Major Delays Expected on County Road 39 Tuesday

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By Tessa Raebeck

County Road 39 was closed by Southampton Town Police on Tuesday at 4:26 a.m. due to a telephone pole and wires on the roadway. The road is closed in both directions between North Sea Road and Dale Road. Major delays should be expected. For more information, call the Southampton Town Police Department at (631) 728-5000.

Sag Harbor Parents Express Safety Concerns Over Pick up and Drop off at Pierson Middle/High School

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By Tessa Raebeck

Last Friday afternoon at the end of the school day, Dr. Carl Bonuso was on Division Street waiting to make a left turn into the Pierson Middle/High School parking lot, with his left signal blinking. A Mini Cooper came behind him, swerved to the left and illegally passed Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District.

Several Pierson parents have expressed concern over such incidents during pick up and drop off at the school’s southern entrance, saying poor design, lack of supervising personnel and drivers’ rush to get kids to school combine for a haphazard and potentially dangerous scenario.

“I’m a parent, not an expert,” said Robbie Vorhaus, who has had two children attend Pierson — one is now in college and the other is still a student at the school. “But I’m still very much aware of the fact that there is a very flagrant potential safety hazard that’s been going on for a long time. And it would seem as though the police department would want to work with the school to prevent something horrible from happening.”

During the morning drop off, parents circle around the Division Street parking lot loop, dropping kids off at a curb by the entrance. Principal Jeff Nichols and other administrators are often present to move traffic along the curb.

John Ali, a Pierson security officer, monitors the buses and is positioned at the Marsden Street intersection in the afternoon. The buses park south of the intersection on Division Street and exit down Marsden Street. Cars line up down Marsden Street, despite a No Standing sign, and up and down Division Street.

During the morning, drivers pull around the loop to drop their kids off; cars approach the parking lot entrance from all directions. The four-way traffic created by the intersection is about 20 feet from the three-way traffic created by the lot entrance.

“There are different problems in the morning than in the afternoon,” Vorhaus said.

In the afternoon, students must find the car picking them up. If it hasn’t yet pulled into the loop, kids often go down the road in search of it.

On Friday afternoon, in addition to directing the intersection, there were students to be monitored. On the loop, a student on a razor scooter had to be directed to stay out of the road. A girl in a red jacket ran across the street, dropping a cup in the middle of the road and stooping to pick it up. During both pick up and drop off, which lasts about 20 minutes each, several cars ran the three stop signs at the Marsden Street intersection.

“It was absolute mayhem there today,” Vorhaus said Tuesday, speaking of the afternoon pick up, which came early due to inclement weather. “With the snow and the early pick up, there were more people and there was nobody there [aside from Ali]. There was no other public safety officer anywhere to be seen.”

Dr. Bonuso said Monday the school is hoping to implement several practical safety changes when the parking lots are renovated as part of the district bond capital projects.

“We’ve also in our school and community meetings talked about the details regarding the design for the parking lot,” he said Tuesday. “One of the things we’re tossing around is whether or not we could expand that curb length, so that people could pull up much further and [thus] not have as much of a line of people spilling out into the street.”

“And of course,” he added, “we also welcome working with and partnering with the village.”

“The answer is,” Vorhaus said Tuesday, “that the police department — as in any other community — works in cooperation with the school and puts either a patrol officer or a safety officer, certainly, at the corner of Division and Jermain.”

Although that intersection is priority, Vorhaus would also like to see a second officer at the northern intersection of Division Street and Marsden Street, especially during pick up.

Dr. Bonuso said he would welcome it if the village’s traffic experts spoke with the district’s architecture firm, BBS Architecture, “to get a sense of traffic flow and what the best design is both from the school’s perspective and the village’s perspective. We absolutely welcome having both the village and school share as much information and expertise as is available.”

“Honestly, I think that’s a school issue,” Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride said Tuesday, adding that he sometimes accompanies his son to drop off his grandson.

Mayor Gilbride said there is a Traffic Control Officer (TCO) at the Sag Harbor Elementary School’s Route 114 entrance “who does an excellent job.”

Sag Harbor Police Chief Tom Fabiano said Tuesday he could not comment because he is unaware of the problem, but anyone with concerns should come to him to discuss a possible solution.


Village Hopes to Make Jermain Ave. Safer for Pedestrians

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By Marissa Maier


With the hiring of an engineering firm to complete preliminary plans, Sag Harbor Village is one step closer to creating safer roadway travel to school for local children.

At a special work session held by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees last week, the board signed off on hiring Dunn Engineering Associates (DEA) to develop initial plans for sidewalk and roadway improvements for an area stretching from Jermain Avenue and Division Street to the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike.

According to Mayor Greg Ferraris, DEA has extensive experience with these kinds of projects.

“This evolved out of the Safe Routes to School Program, which was developed almost a year and a half ago,” said Ferraris. “We can’t move forward with the entire program, but we are going to take on the most important part now.”

Ferraris and village registrar Sandra Schroeder have already met with Ronald Hill of DEA to discuss the firm’s proposal. DEA’s proposed plans are comprised of three main components — a sidewalk from Jermain Avenue and Division Street to Mashashimuet Park; implementation of traffic control devices at the intersections of Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street, and Madison and Division streets; and implementation of traffic strategies to reduce accidents and increase pedestrian safety at problematic intersections.

DEA is still exploring ways to make the problematic intersection at Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street safer. One idea, DEA suggests, is to prohibit right turns for eastbound and westbound traffic at this intersection. If this plan were implemented, it would be necessary to extend the curbs of the sidewalks which would better delineate the sidewalks for pedestrians. DEA is also looking into increasing safety at the intersection of Jermain Avenue and Madison Street by eliminating the existing crosswalk and replacing it with a crosswalk to the north and south side of the intersection.

Although, DEA has yet to present these conceptual plans, which will give the village a better estimation of the cost of the project, Ferraris said, “Both the village and the engineer believe this can be done in an inexpensive manner … a lot of this can be accomplished in a cost effective way.”

For their services in creating these plans, DEA will be paid a fee of $3,500.

By developing the plans for the project now, Ferraris hopes to be “shovel ready” in the new year. Ferraris is optimistic that more federal and state funding grants will be available to fully complete this project. “We have been in contact with Tim Bishop. The federal economic stimulus plan is looking for infrastructure projects that are ready to go . . . and will create jobs right away,” said New York State Assemblyman, and Sag Harbor Village Attorney, Fred Thiele, Jr.

“We will be submitting ideas to local senators and congressmen to hopefully gain funding on a project like this,” said Ferraris.

Once the board has approved the plans, and funding for the project has been found, DEA will begin construction on a new sidewalk and will begin to replace existing sidewalks that are damaged. During this phase of the project, DEA will also install sign changes and create new pavement markings, two features of the plan which are inexpensive, but effective, and will reduce the overall cost of the plan.

“This is money well invested,” said board member Tiffany Scarlato.


Making a Safer Route

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Residents in Sag Harbor are likely poised to face rising taxes from the county, towns and the school in the coming fiscal year while trying to digest a national economy and housing market on the brink of catastrophe – economies we are intrinsically linked to as we watch mortgage tax revenues we once depended on shrink faster than you can say McMansion.

Which is why we would like to throw our thoughts into the array of opinions we hope Sag Harbor residents give its elected body about two capital projects the board is considering funding in the coming year.

We do believe the fence at the Old Burial Ground is in dire need of restoration, and has been for some time. However, given the kind of fiscal restraint our village government will need to show in the coming year, we are concerned a replacement fence, rather than an in-kind restoration will be considered as the economically sound solution. We believe the fence should be restored, in kind, which is admittedly, a costly endeavor. However, as we have learned living in a historic village, a restoration is ultimately the wiser, more valuable way to handle such a project. It is one of the reasons we have a historic preservation and architectural review board that is adamant that homeowners restore parts of their historic homes, or at least replace them with the same materials. The village should treat the fence around the Old Burial Ground with the same respect we ask private homeowners to treat their historic homes.

That being said, we do not encourage the village to spend the money on this project immediately. We believe it is an effort that can be put off a year or so, and see a far more pressing issue at hand.

We would ask that the village prioritize creating a safer environment for the legions of children and students who walk along Jermain Avenue to and from Mashashimuet Park and the schools. In light of the fact that a library may one day grace the grounds of the park, creating even more foot traffic on what can undeniably be a dangerous stretch of road, we hope the village does move forward with a continuous sidewalk from the schools to the park, as well as address problem intersections like Madison Street and Jermain Avenue.

In tough times like these, finding a safer route to school and to our playgrounds is the most obvious priority. 

Calming Noyac

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Noyac residents were understandably infuriated — other, stronger, words were used to describe their feelings Tuesday night — at the lack of response they have been getting from Southampton Town for projects important to the community. It’s been over six years since the town conducted a hamlet study there, and still key recommendations are far from fruition; many languishing on the drawing board. Others not even making it to the drawing board.

In particular traffic calming planning along Noyac Road has been moving at a glacial pace, while the route — one of the most heavily traveled in the town — becomes increasingly dangerous.

A town plan called for constructing a median in front of the Whalebone/Cromers parking area, and a roundabout at the intersection of Noyac and Long Beach roads; but neighboring business owners felt the median would discourage customers and the roundabout was, apparently, too expensive. As a result getting in and out of Cromers and the Whalebone is still a challenge and the roundabout — well, that’s been shelved. And still the traffic roars through the hamlet.

We suggest the town look to what the state did in Sag Harbor and North Haven along Route 114. That state route is actually part of the same problem as Noyac Road: both are regularly used as bypasses. Trucks and cars destined to and from the east end use this route to avoid Montauk Highway. As a result, the traffic is heavier than it deserves to be.

Several years ago, the state conducted its first experiment with traffic calming right here in Sag Harbor. It examined what it could do between the East Hampton Town line and the ferry to Shelter Island to force traffic to slow down and to make the route more pedestrian friendly. Considering this is the State DOT we’re talking about, it was a pretty progressive concept.

They created a series of bulb-outs, traffic islands and medians that has made it easier to cross many of the streets, and it has further encouraged Sag Harbor to be a greater walking village.

At the same time, the narrowing of intersections to accommodate pedestrians — rather than the widening of roads to encourage faster traffic —  has forced vehicles to move slower as they negotiate the roads. Think of larger corners which make for shorter distances across streets and islands that give pedestrians a safe place as they cross wider roads. This is how one calms traffic. The result is slower traffic and a route that discourages vehicles that want to get somewhere in a hurry.

We believe the same concept should be brought to the stretch of Noyac Road between the Waterside and Trout Pond. What has developed here over the years is an environment that is absolutely hostile to pedestrians. Nobody in their right mind would walk to the deli or Cromers or the Oasis or to go swimming or hiking at Trout Pond. It’s even treacherous for bikers.

Noyac will never be a rural little hamlet again; but with good planning its business district can be a safer and more pedestrian-friendly place.

Taking the fam off-road?

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As gas prices soar, sales of SUVs have reportedly declined over the last months, but you wouldn’t know it from driving around here. True, the Prius seems to be the trendiest car on Main Street these days, but the SUV still rules when it comes to weekend warriors. Yesterday driving home from the city I was amazed at, first, the number of cars and second, the number of gas-guzzlers.

The westbound traffic was simply mind-boggling. As I passed the never-ending string of headlights, the only thing I could compare it to was being stuck in post-game traffic in the south on a Saturday. But in that case, the traffic is justified. Gridlock is expected when 90,000 people leave a football game at roughly the same time. It’s event oriented, sort of like when you slice your finger and there’s a rush of blood at first but then you apply a little pressure and it stops bleeding.

What I witnessed though on Sunday evening was more akin to uncontrollable hemorrhaging, like a twelve-year-old just took a grounder to the nose on a nasty hop. It was like a never-ending bloodletting. At one point, as I was driving on 27, I actually thought about calling a friend to see if everything was okay, to make sure it wasn’t evacuation traffic.

What was more startling than the sheer number of vehicles however was the number of SUVs. I probably shouldn’t have been doing this, but I was trying to count them as I was driving. I don’t have a total, but I’ll just say that from exit 60 to exit 70 on the LIE, I counted 147 SUVs and I think I saw at least one Panzer tank. It occurred to me that had a person from say, Holland, been in my passenger seat they would have thought the Hamptons were the sole source of global warming.

Where are these people staying on the weekends? There can’t possibly be enough houses in all of the Hamptons to hold them. How many people can possibly fit in a summer-share house? And are they driving somewhere I’m not, where they need to have four-wheel drive? I’ve yet to find the mountainous terrain in Amagansett. Perhaps they’re driving off the cliffs in Northwest Woods. I could only be so lucky.

Consider Traffic Calming in Noyac

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Noyac residents have been complaining about the increase of traffic through their hamlet for years — and rightfully so. The growth in use of Noyac Road as a bypass has been startling, with members of the trade parade passing through early in the morning, then heading back west in the early evening. Often rushing in both directions.

While many of the discussions use the bend at Trout Pond as a jumping off point, the most recent discussion has focused on the sometimes chaotic approach to the Whalebone/Cromers parking lot. We believe there needs to be some improvement in the design at this lot —  in particular enabling cars to pull out into traffic head first instead of backing into oncoming cars and trucks —  we agree that the biggest problem facing this location — and everywhere through the commercial area — is the speed and volume of traffic.

At Tuesday night’s Noyac Civic Council meeting it appeared most were in agreement that traffic needs to be slowed. As we drove home from that meeting, we noticed that the business district can be pretty easily defined, and we believe a goal for Southampton Town as it looks to incorporate traffic calming measures in Noyac is to help define the downtown area better, and make it more pedestrian friendly. We’ve noted in the past that center medians and islands help serve to slow traffic down (they’ve worked well in Sag Harbor and North Haven villages) and we believe they could be used to great effect along Noyac Road, beginning at the west at Trout Pond, and continuing eastward to the Waterside. The addition of well-placed crosswalks connecting one side of the street with the island would make it easier for pedestrians to get around, and would also force vehicles to slow down.

The idea would be to encourage foot traffic and get vehicular traffic to slow down as it approaches the stores and restaurants — traffic calming people would refer to it as having the vehicles “walk” through the hamlet.

We’re not crazy about the idea of traffic lights or stop signs because they would only serve to back up traffic and create pollution with exhaust. But we think with the use of medians and neck-downs to narrow the road, and even the use of rumble strips and speed monitors to further slow traffic, we can discourage speeders, and maybe even discourage the heavy use of Noyac Road as a bypass.