Traffic on the East End is an ongoing issue that is going to demand creative ideas to ease the throng of vehicles.
The biggest problem is probably the morning/evening trade parade that clogs the entrance to the area. The obvious bottleneck is the Shinnecock Canal, with only three options to cross it. Two of those options, the Sunrise Highway and Montauk Highway bridges, are stressed and over capacity.
Two things could be done: Find a way to ease the demand on the overburdened bridges, and find a way to utilize the third crossing.
The East End commuter train is an attempt to make use of the railroad crossing. It is the right thought but poorly implemented.
It begins at the Speonk train station, off the beaten path and likely to be of use only to residents of Speonk, Remsenburg and Eastport. It does not address the vast majority of the traffic issue. To do that, it should begin farther west. It is not logical to ask someone to drive an hour or more to a station to catch a train.
If it were to originate in Patchogue, workers could be drawn from Patchogue, Bellport and Mastic/Shirley. That is where a large number of the tradesmen for the East End live. This is the first step.
While the tradesmen might then be able to get east, many need their vehicles for their work. What if the truck was already there? Southampton Village, for example, has a large municipal parking lot adjacent to the train station. For a small fee, spots could be reserved for these trucks. In return, the village could increase police surveillance and install security cameras at the lot.
Tradesman, and perhaps assistants, could then have a relaxing ride and perhaps use the time to strategize for the day’s work. Stations farther east also could likely find some options for parking. This is step two.
Needless to say, the suggestions above would come at a cost. Let’s then get two birds with one stone. This will certainly create controversy, but there is a way to help finance the above while at the same time encouraging its use and discouraging the use of the other two crossings.
If E-ZPass readers were installed on those two bridges, there would then be a revenue stream for supporting the rest of the project and, at the same time, discourage use. It could be a minimal charge, maybe 50 cents each crossing between the hours of 6 and 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
This is not going to be a popular idea, and resistance is inevitable, but the status quo is absurd, and doing nothing just perpetuates that. Step three.
One fine body…