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Feb 29, 2016 3:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town To Test Blinking Light System To Reduce Traffic

Southampton Town and Suffolk County will test a “blinking light” program at Tuckahoe Lane and County Road 39 this spring.   DANA SHAW
Mar 1, 2016 3:59 PM

Southampton Town and Suffolk County will test a “blinking light” program on County Road 39 this spring, one designed to keep traffic flowing smoothly during the early morning eastbound rush hour.

The three-day experiment, from Tuesday, April 19, to Thursday, April 21, will gauge the effectiveness of the system, which will not allow cars to access County Road 39 from certain side streets. But while the plan is to collect information in April, officials say they will use it to develop a long-term plan for the congested roadway—but not to implement a permanent program this summer.

The pilot program has been discussed in the past with the goal of alleviating a stop-and-go traffic pattern that causes nearly hour-long delays just east of the Shinnecock Canal, sometimes stretching westward beyond it.

According to Southampton Town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety, Tom Neely, the plan is for Southampton Town Police to block off the side streets at Tuckahoe Road, near the college, to prevent drivers from making left-hand turns from either side onto County Road 39. Since cars will not be able to cross County Road 39 heading north or south, the flow of traffic heading east and west will not be disturbed.

At the same time, the light at that intersection—which is programmed to have the longest green signal, to accommodate traffic heading east and west—will be switched from a fully functioning tri-colored light to a blinking yellow one between 6 and 9 a.m. over the three test days in April.

Residents will be told to find alternative routes onto County Road 39; officials have said there are plenty of other places to enter the road.

According to Mr. Neely, the eastbound lanes of County Road 39 at times back up for miles, often from the Stony Brook Southampton college campus west, sometimes as far as the Westhampton exits. He said the delays are often caused by the traffic lights along County Road 39, which require drivers to repeatedly stop and go. Even with the lights timed in the drivers’ favor, by the time cars toward the back of the line get to move again, the drivers at the front of the line are already being forced to stop again at the next light.

“When you stop traffic entirely—heavy equipment, construction vehicles, cars—people have to react, even though it is on a long green cycle,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said at a work session last Thursday, February 25, referring to the timing of traffic lights on County Road 39. “It takes a lot of time to get 10,000 vehicles rolling again. There is a significant amount of time being wasted.”

During the three-day test, which is scheduled from April 19 to 21, Southampton Town Police will effect and monitor the changes, putting cones out in the road and changing the light. At least three police officers and a sergeant will remain on the scene the entire time.

Originally, the plan was to implement the same restrictions at the Magee Street intersection. However, the Tuckahoe School is on Magee Street, and school buses have to cross the intersection during the time period.

While it will not be included in the April test, town officials say the eventual goal is to eliminate the light at Tuckahoe Road altogether and make significant changes to the intersection.

According to Daniel J. Dresch, director of traffic engineering and highway permits for Suffolk County, while the restrictions are in place, there will be several county employees driving the highway between Westhampton and the Princess Diner in Southampton, approximately where County Road 39 ends. During that time, the drivers will take notes on traffic patterns, using landmarks as time markers. Before and after the test period is complete, the county drivers will take the same route without the restrictions in place, to see where the restrictions affected traffic the most.

“We would like to implement this change for the longer term,” Mr. Dresch said. “At that point we will sharpen our pencils in terms of a longer-term game plan, improving their access for emergency access and the hospital.”

At a Town Board work session last week, Mr. Schneiderman said the present plan is to study the data collected in April with the hopes of implementing the plan full time in the spring of 2017.

“I would like to see a 10-minute reduction in time,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If it is greater than that, it is significant, but it still begs the question: What do we do, if it is successful, for the long term?”

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I have to say Jay is at least recognizing and trying to address the problem. Anna was office for how many years and did nothing? Oh right, she lived East of the Canal. There was Tom Neely who was traffic guy and makes a nice large salary. What has he done? It would be great if Jay comes through.
By lirider (265), Hampton Bays on Feb 29, 16 4:25 PM
About time.
By dnice (2345), Hampton Bays on Feb 29, 16 7:38 PM
Not one word about improving road safety, our lives and the lives of our young drivers matter. The road could be made safer and it should!
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Feb 29, 16 9:29 PM
a road is a road.people suck at driving
By BrianWilliams (73), on Feb 29, 16 10:41 PM
3 members liked this comment
A 3 day test that will go nowhere I'm sure. With the heavy load of construction that is on-going in Southampton, Bridgehampton and East Hampton, let us all prepare for spring and summer commutes that will be worse than ever. The only real fix is to devise an alternative route East such as a bypass, or a way to increase the number of lanes instead of the merge at Flying Point Rd.
By Mouthampton (419), Southampton on Feb 29, 16 10:11 PM
Mo' people, mo' problems . . .

The only thing that will improve traffic on The East End is to have fewer vehicles on the road.

Period.

The East End Shuttle using the LIRR tracks will help . . .

Build it and they will come . . . kickin' and screamin' of course . . .
By PBR (4909), Southampton on Feb 29, 16 10:12 PM
It's the Southampton light first. Then the one by Shell. There are other places to make a left turn down the road if you're headed West on Montauk and want to get onto Sunrise. Just take the exit on North Highway. To sacrifice the light for 5 drivers for 4 minutes so they can get to Sunrise at Stony Brook College doesn't make sense. Block it off in Spring/Summer in the morning. There are 2 different places 4 minutes down the road to do that with entrance ramps in Hampton Bays.
By lirider (265), Hampton Bays on Feb 29, 16 10:26 PM
What good does it do to make traffic flow better on 39 if there is still a 90 degree turn into one lane at the dinner? Move the back up from one place to another? The merge of people coming off the back road in Watermill after the big turn should be stopped. This also adds to the backup in Watermill all the way to the dinner.
The traffic lights on 39 are more of a problem going west during the evening rush. They need to blink during the evening rush all summer.
The back road can use some ...more
By deelove (147), Bridgehampton on Mar 1, 16 7:48 AM
Tom Neely when has it Often backed up to westhampton??? It has when there was a major accident on 39...
Why do we want to speed up traffic. In New England they say "if you don't like the traffic, don't come back".
What is Tom's job anyway???
By knitter (1684), Southampton on Mar 1, 16 9:29 AM
Some of us work 2-3 jobs to try and continue to live here because it is our home and where we grew up. I'm not "coming back" from anywhere. Also, since I spend at least 2 hours sitting in that traffic commuting from Hampton Bays to Bridgehampton in the summer I don't have time to "knit". Not sure you can relate to that.
By kkelly75 (28), Hampton Bays on Mar 1, 16 11:32 AM
I know it's just a test but why are they selecting mid-April when the population isn't anywhere near it's fullest? I'm glad they opted not to do the same with Magee street but how could they expect any benefit when the Magee light, just 1.25 miles down the road, will remain untouched? What about the hundred+ homeowners north of the college, myself included, who would be forced to use Magee Street to access CR39 in the morning? Did anyone give any thought to the increase in vehicles that will ...more
By Hamptonized (6), Southampton on Mar 2, 16 8:16 PM
As usual politicians telling us local residents what's best for us. There are whole full time local communities that live north and south of CR39 and use these streets to drive to schools, the village, and work these are our local streets why do we have to capitulate to the trade parade and others who don't live here. I agree the traffic is herendous but find an alternative to it sthe LIRR shuttle idea has been around for a while good idea. Or some type of by-pass either way the traffic problem ...more
By photo friend (31), southampton on Mar 3, 16 2:50 PM
bay street, sag harbor,