September 27, 2006
Look! Up in the Air! It's a Bird! It's a Plane . . .
. . . It's Steve? Not exactly. "We are looking at every thing we can for County Road 39," County Executive Steve Levy told The Independent last Thursday. This week, that look turned downward, from helicopters dispatched to videotape movement — or the lack thereof — on the congested thoroughfare and surrounding roads.
"I asked Commissioner Dormer to direct the county police aviation unit to do flyovers of the area. A representative from Southampton Town Police will also be in the air to provide input. With that complete, we can review videos of the area in a holistic fashion to decide where to go from here and provide the best mitigation," Levy said Monday, adding, "We're committed to finding a way to make this work."
Once the pilot program to ease traffic on CR39 ended earlier this month, a new predicament surfaced. Restrictions on some side streets in anticipation of a construction project set to begin next spring have caused serious traffic congestion on back roads. In fact, according to Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, one morning traffic was stalled all the way to East Quogue, as drivers attempted to use Montauk Highway to avoid the CR39 jam.
The county executive vowed to consider "every option" to ease the traffic travail. For now, returning orange cones to reconfigure lanes is a tricky undertaking because of autumn's shorter days. Safety is an issue for DPW workers who would place the cones in darkness. Additionally, the state prefers big orange drums, rather than cones, which might take up too much room in the already narrow lanes. "If there's any way we can work this out, we'll do it," Levy said. He expressed willingness to dedicate funding to continuing the project through Thanksgiving.
On Friday, the Southampton Town Board passed the legislation necessary to continue the program. In order to meet statutory deadlines, the town needed to schedule hearings on the issue — such as lowering the speed limits — as if it were a definite go.