August 02, 2006

Riverhead Safety Concerns Addressed

Residents of Riverhead who've been worried about an intersection at Route 25A and Wading River-Manorville Roads in Wading River may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale announced last week that he had received a letter from the New York State Department of Transportation addressing the safety issues he'd raised at the site.

The NYS DOT determined that the installation of a new, westbound, northbound and southbound left turn arrow would solve many of the safety concerns; a left turn lane would take the place of the current southbound Wading River-Manorville Road left turn arrow.

"This is another step in the right direction to make Riverhead a safer place to live," said Cardinale. "I am pleased that the state recognizes that this intersection requires immediate attention."

This is not the first time in recent months that North Fork elected officials have stepped up to ensure safer road conditions for their constituents.

Legislator Ed Romaine appeared before the Southold Town Board at its work session last week to update them on his efforts to rectify a deadly situation.

The focus of the discussion was a dangerous intersection on Westphalia Road and County Road 48 in Mattituck, which has been the scene of over 50 accidents in the last six years.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works conducted a traffic study of the area and recommended a three-color traffic signal. The need for fast action is dire, said Romaine, who wants to work with the town toward a solution. The legislator said that while a roundabout might be installed at the intersection, it would "take time, engineering, and money" and would not be a reality for another three to five years: "Public safety is in jeopardy."

Recently, Romaine introduced a resolution to appropriate funding for the installation of a traffic light. Yesterday, the resolution went to the Public Works Committee, of which the legislator is a member. The next step would be a vote before the full Legislature on Tuesday. The cost of a traffic signal for the intersection would be between $125,000 and $150,000.

Romaine said while stoplights may cause an increase in rear-end accidents, right-angle accidents, such as those occurring at the Westphalia, are far more deadly — 76% of the accidents that occurred in five and a half years, said Romaine, were right-angle accidents.

Southold Town Police Chief Carlisle Cochran said there have been 54 accidents at the site since June of 1999, with at least one involving serious injury. There have been no fatalities.

Romaine assured that if County Executive Steve Levy agrees to fund an engineering study for a roundabout, he would continue to work with the board. "My commitment to the Town board does not end here," he said. Romaine also said he would put a resolution in the budget to authorize the study, as well as continue to work on issues at Cox Neck Road.

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