Gurney's Inn
July 26, 2006

Panel Discussed CR111 Improvements

For weekenders motoring east from the city, it's the "almost there" exit. Drivers turning off the Long Island Expressway onto exit 70 see a light at the end of the seemingly interminable trip's tunnel. Even the venerable Jerry Della Femina recently devoted a column to extolling a new pitstop on what many know as the Manorville Road.

But for area residents, the traffic travail created by drivers heading to the Hamptons is nothing to crow about. Last week, North Fork Legislator Ed Romaine convened the first meeting of the County Road 111 Advisory Committee, a panel challenged with finding ways to make the passage of tourist through the community less painful. Changes to the roadway may have an effect on how visitors to the East End negotiate the second to last leg of their journey. And those changes might mean more traffic tickets for folks with lead feet.

Over 60 area residents turned out for the forum. There was no small measure of kvetching about city drivers and their apparent penchant for high speed and low courtesy driving. Neighbors living on roads that feed onto CR111 complained of difficulty getting out of side streets, and long lines of cars backed up waiting to turn onto the expressway.

This past June County Executive Steve Levy allocated $200,000 to study and plan improvements to the road, specifically the intersection of CR111 and the LIE. Romaine followed up with a request for additional money in 2008 to begin improvements. That measure was defeated, however, the executive branch and Democratic majority arguing that it's premature to earmark funding before a plan is in place.

The committee will weigh in on proposed improvements. In a release following the meeting, Romaine advocated for public input at the earliest stages of the planning process. "Community input is very important," he said. "I'm opposed to letting engineers design improvements in a vacuum. Area residents need to be involved in the process. Too often that is not the case."

At the forum held at the beginning of last week in Manorville, suggestions for improvements ran the gamut from creating a cloverleaf at the exit to simply increasing police presence. By Friday, the county executive had dispatched extra police patrols to the area. According to his liaison Ben Zwirn, the result of the week's increased police presence will be analyzed. From there, the county will consider whether the area would benefit from continued conspicuous enforcement. The county executive is sympathetic to the impact both tourists and the trade parade have on area residents, Zwirn related.

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