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Sep 24, 2014 9:39 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Residents Want Guard Rails Removed From Long Beach Road

Sep 24, 2014 9:58 AM

Community members in Sag Harbor, North Haven, Noyac and Bay Point are asking County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to help remove a series of guardrails that line the entirety of Long Beach Road, as they feel the barriers do more harm than good for pedestrians and cyclists.

A Change.org petition launched by Sag Harbor resident James Perry and North Haven resident April Gornik has garnered more than 500 signatures from people who want the guardrails removed—including model and Sag Harbor resident Christie Brinkley—not only citing safety issues, but also arguing that the guardrails compromise the waterfront views of Noyac Bay, Paynes Creek and the Big Narrows leading out of Sag Harbor Cove.

The residents are calling on Mr. Schneiderman to facilitate removal by the Suffolk County Highway Department, which installed the guardrails in June at a cost of $300,000. Previously, only the portion of Long Beach Road near the parking lot for the beach was lined by guardrails.

“Everybody thinks that they look horrible, and everybody thinks they’re not safe,” Mr. Perry said in a phone interview this week. “Unless the Highway Department or Jay’s office can demonstrate that they really are convincingly improving safety, then they shouldn’t be there.”

Mr. Perry and Ms. Gornik both said the barriers pose a threat to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists: In an accident, individuals could potentially be pinned up against the rail, the critics say. In addition, Mr. Perry said that without the rails, motorists are able to veer off the road and onto the beach to avoid accidents if they need to.

Elena Loreto, a cyclist and the president of the Noyac Civic Council, said she frequently bikes down Long Beach Road and does not think the guardrails would be of any help if she were to get hit by a car.

“I do not like the feeling of having no leeway, no room. If you have to make a fast exit, there’s no place to go,” she said, adding that a scenario like that would be likely to occur because “drivers are constantly breaching [the] bike path” on Long Beach Road.

Mr. Schneiderman, however, said this week that while he is aware of that possible issue, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works had surveyed Long Beach Road after receiving a letter from the Noyac Citizens Advisory Committee that asked for guardrails to be installed. The department found that the roadway met guidelines set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials that call for putting in guardrails.

“The county wouldn’t have put them in if there wasn’t a legitimate public safety concern,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “They didn’t do it without thinking of bicyclists.”

Members of the Noyac CAC could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ms. Gornik said she suspects that the CAC—which, as noted in the Change.org petition, has fewer than 25 members—reached out to Mr. Schneiderman’s office about installing the barriers in response to a head-on collision on the road last summer that led to a flatbed truck traveling down an embankment and onto the beach after it was struck.

“Based on that, it feels like a ‘make-work’ project. Why ruin a beautiful area and put up guardrails?” she said. “It’s one of the most insanely beautiful areas out here. It just seems crazy to me.”

Instead of installing the barriers, Mr. Perry said the county should have looked into slowing down traffic first by putting vibration strips in the road, putting in medians, or reducing or better enforcing the speed limit, as cars on that road often travel well over the 40-mile-per-hour limit. With slower traffic, Mr. Perry said the chances of collisions happening or people getting hit would be reduced tremendously.

“Nothing has been made to slow the traffic down,” he said. “The only time you ever see police monitoring it is in North Haven.”

Mr. Perry and Ms. Gornik are set to meet with Mr. Schneiderman to discuss the matter today, Thursday, September 25. In the meantime, though, the legislator said he is not sure what can be done to alleviate the problem, since the county did find the area to be dangerous without the guardrails. Also, if they were removed, the county would be out hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if the residents pay for the removal, as they have offered, he said.

Mr. Schneiderman said he would be open to considering alternatives to removing the barriers, although he could not think of any other resolution off the top of his head.

“If anyone can come up with another solution, I’d love to hear it,” he said. “I’m hoping somebody comes up with something that addresses both issues.”

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These people are so out of touch with reality. This has nothing to do with compromised safety and everything to do with the guardrails being an eyesore. This isn't the matrix where you can just avoid a vehicle as a pedestrian/bicyclist and do a stuntman roll over the guardrail. If you're going to get hit you're not going to have time to react. If you are riding correctly you probably won't even see it coming. If vehicles are breaching the bike lanes it sounds like an enforcement issue.
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Sep 24, 14 6:00 PM
A bunch of rich, self absorbed entitled horrible people...........
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Sep 25, 14 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
The installation of those guardrails was long overdue. I'm sick and tired of reading story after story of people driving their cars into the water and drowning........
By bird (829), Southampton on Sep 26, 14 10:09 AM
Why is it important that Christie Brinkley's signature is among the 500?? Who the hell cares???
By LocalTeacher (23), Southampton on Sep 28, 14 7:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah, there are so many examples of people getting pinned against a guardrail. This story and subsequent reporting is laughable.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Sep 28, 14 11:19 PM