It is welcome news that the Southampton Village Board is taking steps to address traffic issues in the village [“Southampton Village Will Launch Pilot Program in Attempt To Alleviate Traffic Issues,” 27east.com, September 21]. The negative impact of excessive traffic on both public safety and quality of life is considerable.
However, the board and the public should be clear-eyed about the limits of what the village can accomplish on its own.
Having studied this issue for many years, and having made several presentations to previous boards about the causes and cures of the village’s traffic woes, I want to remind everyone of certain givens:
The fundamental cause of our traffic issues is excessive regional commuter volume combined with under-capacity roadways.
The loss of workforce housing to second-home owners in large areas of Southampton Village, Noyac, northern Sagaponack, eastern Sag Harbor and northwest East Hampton has more than doubled the volume of daily commuters traversing the Shinnecock Canal over the past 15 years.
The only solutions to this problem are (a) improved highway capacity and engineering, (b) better use of commuter rail, or (c) construction of workforce housing east of the canal.
The particular issue of congestion during the afternoon commute on Hill Street is a direct result of the lack of a dedicated left turn signal at David White’s Lane. While nearly 2,000 cars use David White’s Lane every morning to get from County Road 39 to Mariner Drive, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, Southampton Town Hall and various schools, only a few hundred brave souls reverse that route in the afternoon to avoid risking a multi-cycle wait at the stoplight. That leaves 1,500-plus cars that commute west through the village each afternoon that do not commute east through the village in the morning.
Like many systems, once a road system nears capacity, small increases in volume and/or small disruptions can create outsize impact and inconvenience. That is true of our village roads, and the solution needs to be regional in scope and multi-facted.
The proposal to modify speed limits will not have any appreciable impact on traffic.
One fine body…