Hampton Bays became the latest target for a suggested bypass that does not address any root causes. Such a proposal reminds me of Band-Aids that are lower-cost store brand offerings, where the adhesive does not work, etc. — cheap and ineffective.
I propose a big bypass. It would be two-lane concrete structure built on the Long Island Rail Road right-of-way. It would be built so that the existing car and rail traffic continues as it is.
An eastbound car would enter at Speonk and choose one of three exits: Southampton, Bridgehampton or an eastern terminus in East Hampton. Only cars would be allowed to use the express roadway; trucks would continue to use the existing surface highway. Speed limit, 65 mph.
An EZ-Pass fee would be charged for all cars. Carpool discounts should be considered. Automatic gates can be used to close and open the entrance ramps. We have seen these on the interstate highways in the Midwest. They look similar to railroad crossing gates and are remotely controlled to open and close.
Two lanes of traffic would be directed east in the morning. In the late morning, all the eastbound gates would be closed. Sweep cars would drive the distance to make sure all cars are off the road before allowing westbound gates to open.
The LIRR property is there to move people through the region. The commuter train idea has long since jumped the shark. Until the communities here are dense enough to be indistinguishable from the five boroughs, subway-style mass transportation is not a solution. Few of us can drive to our house in any community and then walk to the grocery, dry cleaner or restaurant. They are just too far away. We all will still need to rely on private cars to move about.
The Hampton Bays bypass proposal fails on many levels. To me, the biggest failure was the lack of give-and-take between the community and the town officials. The town gave the Hampton Bays bypass idea, but there were no takers. The public hearing and at least two advisory boards asked the Town Board members to slow down and describe exactly what they had in mind. The answer was no, 5-0, and the subsequent Article 78 ruling from the State Supreme Court was refreshingly fair.
If we want to go for a bypass, let’s go big. Let’s go for something that will last 50 years or more. A multitrillion-dollar infrastructure bill is about to be approved in Washington, D.C. Let’s make sure we get our well-deserved slice of that pie.
Bruce C. Doscher
One fine body…