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Aug 19, 2009 11:17 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village considers plans for North Sea Road traffic

Aug 19, 2009 11:17 AM

The Southampton Village Board is considering measures to improve the flow of traffic on North Sea Road in front of the new post office, as motorists are getting acclimated to a new median and series of turning lanes installed recently just a bit north on the same road, between the Long Island Rail Road trestle and County Road 39.

Ever since the post office opened on July 13, morning and afternoon rushes at the post office have meant snarled traffic on North Sea Road as cars go in and out of the parking lot. The problem is exacerbated daily by the busy entrance to Schmidt’s Market directly across the street.

During a Southampton Village Board meeting on Thursday, August 13, Ron Hill of the Westhampton Beach traffic planning firm Dunn Engineering Associates reviewed the few options the village has to mitigate the situation. One is to prohibit left turns out of both the post office and Schmidt’s, but that would mean more left turns down the street, at Bowden Square and Windmill Lane. Some others have suggested that it would be better if the two driveways were offset, rather than directly across the street from each other, but offset entrances would cause even more traffic problems, Mr. Hill said.

“Where they put it is probably the best they could do with the property they have,” he told the board.

Mayor Mark Epley said he favors putting a left turning lane in the middle of the road, allowing motorists to make turns into both the market and the post office, and continuing to allow motorists to make left turns out of both parking lots. As it stands now, the stretch of North Sea Road in front of the post office and Schmidt’s has no painted lanes.

Mr. Hill also suggested moving the mailboxes at the new post office back to Nugent Street, in front of the old post office, to reduce the volume of cars coming in and out of the new facility’s parking lot.

A few hundred yards up the street, the village recently had a concrete median and a few painted medians installed. The work created left turning lanes for Hillcrest Avenue, Willow Street, The Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing and Suffolk County National Bank.

Superintendent of Publick Works Gary Goleski said that a crosswalk, which will be located to the north of the concrete median, will be painted soon.

“We wanted to let the traffic get used to how all the medians are set up, and it’s going to be probably one more week before we put that in,” he said.

Fearing that migrant workers who congregate on North Sea Road looking for work may try to use the median as a place to wait to be picked up, creating an unsafe situation, the Village Board adopted a traffic regulation last week prohibiting pedestrians from loitering in crosswalks or on medians.

Mr. Goleski said that he would have preferred to have all the roadwork done prior to the summer, when it causes the most inconvenience, but Rosemar Construction, which put in the median, was not available until the end of July, and the plans were still under revision until then. An earlier iteration of the plan called for multiple concrete medians, but Mr. Goleski said business owners along the road opposed them.

Some residents have complained that the village did not need even one concrete median, he said, though he added that it reinforces the separation of the roadway as all medians and turning lanes are designed to do. By narrowing the roadway, the medians should slow traffic to a safe rate of speed, Mr. Goleski said. And the turning lanes keep cars from stopping wherever they please and disrupting traffic to make left turns, he said.

Flowers and greenery will be planted in the middle of the concrete median, but irrigation needs to be put in first, Mr. Goleski said. He said that a tool called a grundomat could be used to dig a tunnel for a water line right under the road without having to slot cut the road and redo the asphalt.

In other roadwork and traffic related matters, the village will install a new antique-style traffic light on Hampton Road at Little Plains Road near Southampton Town Hall.

“If you’re sitting on Little Plains, it’s very difficult to get out on Hampton Road,” Mr. Goleski said, explaining that the light should alleviate that problem.

The approximate cost of the light and pedestrian countdown signals at the intersection is $77,000, according to Village Treasurer Stephen Funsch. The light will be paid for by Bridgehampton National Bank, which has a branch at the southeast corner of the Hampton Road, Little Plains Road intersection. The bank agreed to pay for the light so it could get Planning Board approval to put a branch there. Mr. Funsch said the village has held $125,000 in escrow from Bridgehampton National Bank since November 2006 and the difference will be refunded.

Mr. Goleski said the light will blink yellow for a week, so motorists can get used to it being there before it is turned on.

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It's amazing...that it is just now being realized that there is a traffic problem in front of Schmidts and yet still built the post office across the street!!!! My five year old nephew could design a town and village with more common sense than these high paid political design jerks!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 19, 09 4:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Traffic conditions weren't a consideration prior to building the post office? Unbelievable! I agree with United States Citizen-no common sense from anyone involved in all the planning! And to boot, the landscaping in front of the post office looks terrible. I guess a lot of money was spent to grow weeds! Go figure....
By fdp (23), southampton on Aug 26, 09 6:27 AM