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Oct 8, 2014 9:38 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lack Of Communication Between PSEG, Southampton Town Results In Traffic Nightmare Tuesday Morning

Oct 8, 2014 9:38 AM

On Tuesday morning, crews from the Public Service Enterprise Group, the electric utility, were trimming trees along County Road 39 heading into Southampton as part of an islandwide tree trimming program—but a lack of communication between the company and Southampton Town made for a messy morning rush hour, as eastbound motorists were not notified of the roadwork before it began.

The work began at 7 a.m. and interrupted what is already a sometimes traffic-burdened commute for many. The right lane was closed heading eastbound on County Road 39 just after the terminus of Sunrise Highway, as a truck and crane idled and slowly performed the work. By 9 a.m., the resulting traffic jam stretched back miles, over the Shinnecock Canal and beyond Hampton Bays.

“It took me over 45 minutes to get from Hampton Bays to Southampton,” said Maureen Coley, a social worker at the David E. Rogers M.D. Center for HIV/AIDS Care in Southampton, who was almost an hour late for work on Tuesday morning because of the traffic. “For them to pick the middle of morning rush hour to block one lane of the most congested part of the trip was just colossally stupid.”

Town officials said that although they have met with PSEG representatives about the tree trimming program and welcomed the initiative, they were not advised of the work that took place Tuesday morning. Because of that, the town did not send out a message notifying subscribers of its Emergency Alerts system about the delays until 8:47 a.m.—well into the heart of rush hour, and nearly two hours after the work began.

Jeffrey Weir, a spokesperson for PSEG, said the company notified the Southampton Town police and highway departments of the work on Friday, as it was originally supposed to begin on Monday. Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, however, said his office was not advised of the tree trimming plans. “They might have emailed us, but we didn’t see the email,” Mr. Gregor said. “It’s not our road, so we have no jurisdiction.”

He added that the county should have been notified because the roadway in question is a county road. Jason Hann, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, said his office was not contacted about the work either.

A representative from the police department confirmed that the department had been notified, although police did not warn motorists until the morning of the work, using a digital sign on the median of Sunrise Highway just before the Shinnecock Canal—where motorists didn’t see it until they were well into the backup.

Mr. Weir said the work was planned the way it was so that the company could complete it in one day. Unlike paving projects, he noted that tree trimming has to be done during daylight hours to ensure the safety of workers, as they deal with electrical wires and need to be able to see.

But because of the traffic concerns, PSEG worked through lunch and finished just after 2 p.m. “The whole idea was to compress the schedule and get it done in one day—one day of frustration and aggravation of traffic instead of doing it over multiple days,” he said.

Mr. Weir said this was not the first tree trimming project in Southampton Town, as they have been occurring since August. He said more will take place throughout the season until December, yet he did not have a time frame for when the next one would start. He said no more tree trimming is expected along County Road 39.

According to its website, PSEG trims trees that may pose a potential hazard to electrical wires and circuit boxes. The company says it meets with local officials to get approval for the tree trimming before coming in and conducting the work.

Town officials suggested that the traffic issue arose simply because PSEG may not have known about the congestion that often occurs where Sunrise Highway and County Road 39 merge. “I would think they may not fully understand the traffic issues out here,” said Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

Mr. Weir, however, said PSEG was well aware of the potential congestion, and argued that the work would have caused traffic problems at any time of the day.

“We live here, we work here, we’re part of the fabric of the community. We are aware of the traffic concerns, especially at the Sunrise Highway merge,” he said. “Yes, rush hour is bad. But traffic out there, no matter what time of the day, [is] stalled.”

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Brilliant thinking PSEG! NOT!
By JCPA (13), East Hampton on Oct 7, 14 9:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who's brilliant idea was to do it at that hour? Seriously - it made people in my office over an hour late for work! Thank goodness I come from the other direction but I sure felt for them!
By johnny'sgirl (3), southampton on Oct 7, 14 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who authorizes this stuff?!?!?!?!?
By goddessjlt (1), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 9:49 AM
Ask Suffolk County. They are in charge of the road & allowed it to happen.
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 6:31 PM
This is an ignorant town. place sucks on so many levels.
By The Cramped ins (7), southampton on Oct 7, 14 9:49 AM
And NOBODY thought to put that little detail out to commuters before the middle of rush hour? Dang, PSEG ticks me off!!
By Kathy Whittaker (3), East Hampton on Oct 7, 14 9:50 AM
Typical example of ZERO coordination or communication between municipalities and utilities. And certainly ZERO thought or consideration of the hard-working tax payers simply trying to get to work!! Epic fail!
By EastEndWriter (5), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 9:58 AM
Brilliant timing PSEG
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Oct 7, 14 9:59 AM
Let's close the Eastbound Lane for tree trimming in the morning.

Hey...what time of day should we close the Westbound Lane to trim the other side of the street??
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 10:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
The best part is that the westbound work is scheduled for 4pm...
By The Cramped ins (7), southampton on Oct 7, 14 10:13 AM
So happy I left that brainless town behind. You people are so stressed out and maybe you don't even know how much. Try looking at your lives from a different perspective. The rest of the country doesn't revolve around the Hamptons! Yes you can move, get a new job and live for a change. That place is only for the wealthy and the servant class. Quit pretending it's anything like it used to be. You will be much happier!
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Oct 7, 14 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
So spot on...the maximum inconvenience for the maximum amount of people...And PSEG was supposed to be BETTER than LIPA. What a joke!
By nauti lady (25), Sag Harbor on Oct 7, 14 10:14 AM
They're the same. PSEG just rebranded LIPA. Same old machine.
By det7408 (7), Bridgehampton on Oct 7, 14 12:24 PM
On the PSEG website it says:

"We have designed a communications process to make sure elected officials and our customers know when we are trimming trees.
We meet with elected officials in towns and villages before tree trimming begins"

Can anyone find out if this was done?
By shocean (16), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 10:36 AM
4 members liked this comment
So typical ....why don't the elected officials hold the utilities feet to the fire?
By factfindr (5), southampton on Oct 7, 14 11:43 AM
And then there are the cops sitting there waiting for somebody to try and make an illegal turn to, what -- get to work on time? Capitalizing on everyone's misery...
By Mktngdoc (2), East Quogue on Oct 7, 14 12:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Town Board again is absent from real life concerns. Do you think any of them "oops" caught in traffic sit there like the rest of us? I'm sure the Town Board will hire another firm or something to do a million dollar study about working with other agencies under the pretense they give a crap. They just don't get it.
By lirider (288), Westhampton Beach on Oct 7, 14 12:34 PM
I'm no fan of PSEG but they do have a tree trimming schedule on their Site. It says August thru December for trimming in SH. Maybe our elected offals could go online & have a look themselves, then let the GP know what's scheduled? I know that's a lot to ask of Queen Anna and her merry band of idiots.......
By G (342), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 12:39 PM
PSEG = BRAINDEAD! Cost me an extra hour to go east today. Who thought this one up??? CR 39 is difficult enough in the mornings eastbound, this was just a major FAIL in the planning office. Really PSEG, if you want people to be on your side and have confidence in you, don't ever do anything foolish and inconsiderate like this again. Plan the work in the off hours!!!!
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Oct 7, 14 12:46 PM
So here what they should have done. Trim trees on Westbound side from 9AM to1PM and trim trees on Eastbound side from 11AM to 3PM. And my IQ is only 100!!
By sukie (5), sag harbor on Oct 7, 14 1:11 PM
I see one major flaw in your thinking. You used common sense.
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 2:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gee just a little thougth would have helped. begin Eastbound after 11 am when the rush is over and work till its done. Westbound should start earlier and end by 2pm when the reverse rush begins.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Oct 7, 14 1:22 PM
better to do it on the weekends
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 7, 14 1:32 PM
the weekends are no better, are you sure your from the east end??
By paulie83 (7), riverhead on Oct 7, 14 1:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
better to do it on the weekends
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 7, 14 1:32 PM
Glad Southampton sent out an EMERGECY ALERT at 845AM. That was sure to help all those who have to be to work at noon
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Oct 7, 14 2:42 PM
Love this quote from ATH:
"I guess they have to do it in daylight," she said. "I guess they weren’t aware of the traffic delays. We’ll look into that.”

Then this PSEG Quote:
“We live here, we work here, we’re part of the fabric of the community. We are aware of the traffic concerns, especially at the Sunrise Highway merge,”

The incompetence and indifference at all levels is mind numbing...
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Oct 7, 14 2:46 PM
3 members liked this comment
Well, if we have a hurricane in the next couple of weeks, we wont have to worry about those branches creating power outages. Imagine if they were allowed to put up taller poles would there be a need for so much branch maintenance? Keep up the good work PSEG!...(I hope you remember the good word I put in and give me a discount on the 24% power supply charge you are planning for October).
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Oct 7, 14 3:15 PM
If this is your biggest problem of the day I'm happy for you...stuff happens
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Oct 7, 14 7:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
I give PSEG a lot of credit for the preventative measures they are taking this year and the same type of effort they put in last year. We just went through one of the most severe winters ever last year in the Hampton's. It was incredible. I would like to know who living out here lost their power for more than a short period. The answer is NO ONE. No days without power as in the past. Much improved from the year before and the year before that. Maybe they could have been smarter in this situation ...more
By Stolzr (11), Bridgehampton on Oct 7, 14 8:22 PM
This one is completely on PSEG----they have no sense of community relations. They mishandled the substation in Shelter Island, the tall poles in East Hampton, and now this.........they claimed they contacted the Town......but its a County Road, the fact is they just went out and did it........You don't have to be a scholar to realize you can't do this project during the trade parade..they just don't know the community...and don't care about learning.....expect more.....the Governor has given us ...more
By shadow captain (34), sag harbor on Oct 9, 14 2:41 PM
I've lived here for over 20 years and still feel its one of the best places to live in the country. The seasons are gorgeous,the locals are cool, you can make a decent living and get out of town when necessary. Yes, the over privileged selfie crowd and the non-stop traffic sucks but there's a overall level of intelligence, sophistication and an appreciation of the literary & the arts that I enjoy..PSEG made a big mistake in their scheduling and many of us were late and inconvenienced but like the ...more
By gonzorip (3), Southampton, New York on Oct 9, 14 4:04 PM
I called PSEG recently to report a broken pole with dangerously low hanging wires and was on hold for nearly 30 minutes then told to call another number because they dont handle that. These are their publicly published 800 numbers. After waiting another 10 mins on the second call a woman came on the line who had no idea where Hampton Bays was and though I gave her the intersection where the pole was, she told me that was no good that she needed a street address. I told her there was no house near ...more
By jim (48), hampton bays on Oct 10, 14 3:15 PM
Now that they are done trimming trees maybe they can install the net meter we've been waiting four months for.
By bird (829), Southampton on Oct 12, 14 1:19 PM