A Safe Road - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2097676

A Safe Road

The effort underway in Southampton Village Hall to prohibit the afternoon commuter traffic from accessing Hill Street from the Somerset Avenue neighborhood has segued into an areawide plan that will prohibit right turns from the three most westerly streets north of Hill Street: Somerset Avenue, Bishops Lane and Corrigan Street [“Traffic Study Recommendations Shared at Most Recent Southampton Village Board Meeting; Residents Frustrated at Return of Somerset Barrier,” 27east.com, February 14].

A two-page draft traffic “assessment,” performed in the dead of winter by the discredited planning firm Nelson Pope Voorhis, which consisted of a total of four hours of study, arrived at the conclusion that Somerset Avenue was unsafe given the volume of traffic utilization driving at 30 mph, based on the presence of two 90-degree curves built into the subdivision’s roads. NPV should have recognized that such curves serve as classic traffic “calming” devices that perform exactly as designed, and that the speed limit has been 25 mph on Somerset for many years.

A recent occurrence, when a work van going around a curve on Somerset Avenue tipped over due to poor weight distribution and excessive speed, is the exception that proves nearly 50 years of traffic safety on the road. It is, in fact, so incongruous an accident given the record of safety on Somerset that I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a staged event executed by some real estate special interests to serve as a casus belli to sterilize the neighborhood from through traffic and see its property values soar.

Somerset Avenue has been a cut-through street since it was laid down on potato fields some 50 years ago. Such use has grown proportionately with all the other busy streets in the village. Many of the residents of Somerset who are agitating for the elimination of through traffic in their neighborhood are recent homebuyers who arrived with the COVID pandemic.

The equity I’m concerned about is not the value of their properties but the fairness of balancing competing interests in a matter as important as local traffic.

Steven Welch