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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.

Town Considers Banning Trucks on Noyac Road

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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.