August 23, 2006
Promote Safety, Not Self
Hundreds of motorists are grateful that local politicians are finally moving to ease the traffic crisis on County Road 39 in Southampton, but we urge all concerned to remember this is about their constituents and not politics or publicity.
Last week, County Executive Steve Levy held a press conference in Southampton to announce he would move forward on a proposal that would provide a more permanent fix to the problem. Transparently trying to grab all the media attention, Levy neglected to invite County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, whose press conference on the congested stretch earlier this summer led to some much-needed action. When Schneiderman crashed the presser, Levy supposedly approached him and said, "You're not in this."
Also apparently uninvited was Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, though the town put up much of the funds and manpower used to open up a second lane during the morning rush hour commute.
Obviously, with Levy being a Democrat and Heaney and Schneiderman as Republicans, a bit of partisanship can be tolerated, especially with an Election Day coming that most expect will be a donnybrook. However, when and if the road is finally fixed, it will be silly for one person to try to take the bulk of the credit when in reality there have been many key players, and more will probably have to emerge if this is to get done quickly.
In the end, the state, county and town will have to work together to find a permanent solution and funding for it.
Seemingly forgotten amid all this self-congratulatory chest beating have been the fatalities that have occurred because of traffic accidents on CR 39. Traffic is the hot button issue and the wagon the politicians have hitched themselves too, however belatedly. But traffic jams in reality are just an inconvenience, while fatalities are tragedies.
We'd like to hear more about how officials plan to enhance safety on Paseo de Muerto. Why have six people died over the past two years? Why are there so many accidents on the stretch? What can be done to prevent more deaths?
It is the dream of every motorist to get in and out of the East End without sitting in a traffic jam. But if the free flow of traffic is going to result in more frequent and more heinous mangled wrecks and lifeless bodies, maybe creeping along at five miles an hour isn't such a bad thing.