I applaud the Southampton Village Board for acknowledging and wanting to address the horrific commuter traffic issue that afflicts the western village. There is bumper-to-bumper traffic nearly every day, affecting quality of life for all residents in and around Hill Street and posing serious life and safety issues should there ever be a fire or similar emergency while the streets are gridlocked.
However, the current attempt to address traffic by limiting turns from certain roads on the west end of Hill Street has proven not to work and has led to longer and denser gridlock. The only noticeable effects are (1) freeing residents of Somerset, Lee and Captain’s Neck from their recent introduction to these longstanding traffic issues, and (2) saddling those on eastern Hill Street with an even worse version of the problem they have had to endure for a decade.
The traffic issues cannot be solved on a local basis. They are regional in nature and must be solved regionally. Having looked at all the available data and spent time observing and analyzing the traffic over the past year, I wanted to share a few starting points for a successful regional approach:
Eighty percent of the increased commuter traffic over the past 20 years is the result of year-round residences converting to second-home residences east of Shinnecock Canal. This loss of housing requires an additional 11,000 to 12,000 cars per day to commute from the west into or through Southampton Village and causes 45 percent of the total problem.
Another 35 percent is due to the increased service demand from the conversion of homes to second-home use. The remaining 20 percent of increased traffic is due to development, with most coming from office/commercial development and the rest from new homes.
The problem can only be solved regionally, with a combination of (a) increased workforce housing east of the canal to reduce the need to commute, and (b) increased use of the commuter rail.
A small but meaningful improvement for Southampton Village can be achieved by creating a dedicated “left turn” light at David White’s Lane onto the highway. Right now, 1,000 to 1,200 cars per day that enter the village via the highway onto David White’s Lane choose not to retrace that route in the afternoon, but instead drive through the village and onto Hill Street.
The village trustees must abandon the current plan, which only further punishes long-suffering residents of eastern Hill Street in order to benefit, disproportionately, other residents of western Hill Street, and go back to the drawing board in partnership with other regional officials.
One fine body…