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May 9, 2018 10:17 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town, USGA Officials Formulate Traffic Plan For U.S. Open Without 'Cops And Cones'

Charlie Howe, a U.S. Golf Association representative, and Tom Neely, Southampton Town's director of public transportation and traffic safety, discuss preperations for the U.S. Open in June. AMANDA BERNOCCO
May 9, 2018 10:24 AM

Southampton Town is aiming for a hole in one when it comes to controlling traffic during the U.S. Open Golf Championship next month.

Town officials have been hashing out strategies with representatives of the United States Golf Association to limit traffic when massive crowds visit the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Tuckahoe. The championship is expected to attract more than 30,000 participants and spectators per day and will run from June 11 to 17.

While the organizers have been using the 2004 U.S. Open as a baseline—that was the last time the Open was held in Shinnecock Hills—they will not be employing its “cops and cones” strategy, which added an eastbound lane to County Road 39. At the time, there was only one eastbound lane on the road.

“We learned a lot in 2004 about traffic control,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman at a Town Board work session last Thursday, May 3. “Back then, we had one less lane on County Road 39. So they helped create the extra lane with cones, which showed that having that extra lane made a big difference. Now, we have that lane.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he considered bringing back the “cops and cones” technique to create a bus-only lane—shuttle buses will be picking people up from special U.S. Open parking lots at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and at the Hampton Classic Horse Show site in Bridgehampton—but decided to go with other options instead.

For instance, officials are considering creating a blinking light on County Road 39 at the Tuckahoe Road intersection, since no turns would be permitted on that road the week of the Open. There will be police officers from multiple police agencies on the South Fork assisting with traffic as well.

“I think that light on blink would have a significant effect on reducing traffic backlog,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

But the best way to limit traffic, according to organizers, is convincing spectators to take the Long Island Rail Road to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The LIRR announced this week that multiple extra trains will be provided to get to and from the U.S. Open, with a special stop created at the Stony Brook Southampton campus across County Road 39 from the golf course, with a pedestrian bridge employed again this year.

“I expect a large amount of spectators to come by train,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “And that’s how I would advise people to come.”

“We are pushing people to use LIRR as much as possible,” Charlie Howe, a USGA representative, added.

Last week, Mr. Howe and Hank Thompson, another USGA representative, met with Walter Dunn of Dunn Engineering in Westhampton Beach, Southampton Town Police Captain Lawrence Schurek, Town Police Lieutenant Michael Zarro, Town Police Chief Fire Marshal Cheryl Kraft and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and public safety, at the session to discuss the prep.

The plans—including specific bus routes from Westhampton and Bridgehampton—were meticulously laid out for the Town Board to show that traffic would be handled in an appropriate manner.

Other plans, including securing a mass gathering permit from Suffolk County, appear to be moving forward as well.

“Things are pretty much on schedule,” Ms. Kraft said.

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Dan suggested taking the Hamptons Subway
By Pacman (260), Southampton on May 9, 18 12:28 PM
As long as I can get to and from work in a timely manner without all the necessary bologna like last time. I had a cop hold me up for twenty minutes on Sebonack Road just to let people walk down to the golf course. I think its rude to let 500 people walk in the middle of a road. Hopefully it goes smooth.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on May 9, 18 1:11 PM
traffic is backed up to Rt111 on sunrise this month Jay, I'm sure your plan is gonna be a disaster.
By politcal pawn (120), Flanders on May 9, 18 5:35 PM
Expect traffic and a lot of it. Neely what are your thought??? What is your job???
By knitter (1807), Southampton on May 9, 18 7:54 PM
Thank God I commute down North Sea Road into the Village for work. It's gonna be rough for anyone to the west, between the seasonal carpetbaggers and the Open "visitors" the traffic jam will be one of biblical proportion.
By bigfresh (4497), north sea on May 9, 18 8:06 PM
Thank goodness we still have the EH airport! I'll be ferrying friends and family between EH and Gabreski so they can avoid spending hours that epic traffic jam just to get back and forth between EH/Montauk and Riverhead/Quogue. Just a 10-15 min hop to avoid all the mess!
By localEH (420), East Hampton on May 9, 18 8:20 PM
What about all of the school buses traveling the County Rd 39 corridor every day? Should these kids have to sit on the bus another hour? They are sitting on the bus for two hours each day now!!
By CNappi (4), East Quogue on May 10, 18 9:57 AM
Some folks actually live near the club and during the last open, getting home was difficult. Heck, we only local taxpayers.
By esg1192 (8), Southampton on May 10, 18 1:07 PM
Not employing the "cops and cones" again is a mistake; even with the second lane on CR39, traffic is backed up with trade parade. Add in the Open traffic, I may as well sleep in my office rather than trying to commute from Hampton Bays to Southampton Village that week.
By MrsD (52), Hampton Bays on May 10, 18 1:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree, employ cops and cones to keep traffic flowing. it takes 45 min to and hour now from EQ. All you need is one serious accident on Sunrise east of Exit 65 or CR39 and you are done like earlier this year. I suggest that businesses start staggering hours like they did in Hauppauge years ago to alleviate traffic. There are times I can't get out of my street, so I go in late rather than sit in my car for 2-3 hours going nowhere!
By 7396 (2), East quogue on May 10, 18 3:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Agreed! Staggering hours is a great idea! I'm already late to work most days anyway...
By MrsD (52), Hampton Bays on May 10, 18 4:51 PM
Wow, let's put a light that will basically be useless anyway on blink. Genius.
By dnice (2345), Hampton Bays on May 10, 18 4:04 PM
Will there still be a pedestrian entrance off Sebonac Road?
By crushton (1), Southampton on May 10, 18 5:08 PM
I'm just wondering is the USGA reimbursing us taxpayers for the extra expenses incurred by our police and possibly highway departments? We the taxpayers shouldn't have to lay out a penny for a for profit event, actually we should obtain some fee income for allowing it to happen in the first place. While there is always that increase to tourism argument but what about all the people inconvenienced when we cant get to and fro...
By North Sea Citizen (555), North Sea on May 10, 18 6:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Does anyone else remember the influx on Friday, and the mass exodus on Sunday?

Ah, those were the days...
By Mr. Z (11490), North Sea on May 10, 18 8:51 PM
In 2004 the so called Cops and Cones Plan was Designed by an Engineer who Specialized in Traffic Control and It was Flawless.
And Remember..... the Arrogance of Texting While Driving, Driving by GPS and the Addiction of Using a Cell Phone While Driving Didn't Exist thus Driver Inattention was Minimal. Anyone Assigned to Traffic Control Please Pay Attention, Wear as much Safety Green as Possible and Surround Yourself with Bright Orange Cones because this one is going to be Different.
By Brady (14), Southampton on May 11, 18 4:36 AM
I can honestly say I see at least seven out of ten faces on the road looking at a screen, instead of the road.
By Mr. Z (11490), North Sea on May 14, 18 9:40 PM
It's an excellent idea. Throw in some donuts to go with cones if they need incentive.
By deepchanel (82), Hampton Bays on May 14, 18 9:13 AM
They sure rush around for the tournament.Othetwise Southampton town doesnt do anything to help anyone. This tournament is going to be a big traffic jam. People for the most part park go to the tournament then drive home west. No restaurants or any other spending of money in town just a day tripping nightmare
By chief1 (2748), southampton on May 14, 18 3:37 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4497), north sea on May 15, 18 6:42 PM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton