September 27, 2006
CR 39 Program Back in Business
Commuters who've been bemoaning all-too-familiar traffic on congested County Road 39 during morning rush hour after the cessation of a pilot program that sparked smooth sailing this summer can breathe a sigh of relief: The wildly successful "cones and cops" program is scheduled to be back on the front burner again.
Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney and the town board voted during a special town board meeting last Friday to pass a resolution setting a pubic hearing to temporarily reinstate restrictions on left turns, U-turns, and modify the speed limit on a portion of CR 39 to 30 mph during the morning rush hour.
The public hearing is scheduled for this Friday at 10 a.m. at Southampton Town Hall; the plan is expected to become effective once again next Monday and will remain in effect at least until the day after Thanksgiving. The matter will be revisited again at that time, and continued to be addressed until the completion of a permanent second lane running east in 2008.
"Obviously we had great success with the program this summer," said Councilman Chris Nuzzi. "We should try to continue with it for as long as we can."
The board passed another resolution for a public hearing, also on Friday morning, to consider a local law repealing the temporary designation of a portion of Hills Station Road, the first connector between CR 39 and Montauk Highway, for one-way traffic, Monday through Friday, from 5:30 to 10 a.m. That plan was put in place after the pilot program ended in September to help alleviate traffic woes.
Finally, the board passed a resolution directing the chief of police to move traffic as conditions may require on CR 39 pending the adoption of the local law.
Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney said he worked to put together some additional funding, including a "very nice welcome gesture" in the amount of $20,000 to help defray costs of the program from the Town of East Hampton.
"The decision to continue with the temporary program stems from the reality that traffic continues to be horrid to deal with," he said. "The back-ups are maddening as tens of thousands of people are trying to get to work in the mornings."
Heaney said he spent all of last Tuesday working to reach consensus among involved parties such as the Village of Southampton, the Suffolk County Sheriff's department, and the New York State Police, to re-start the program. In addition, said the supervisor, the town will have 10 police officers on duty and available during program hours.
The only step remaining is for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works and County Executive Steve Levy's office to work out internal concerns, he said. After those concerns are addressed and the public hearing is held, he said, "We should be able to move forward."
The county was scheduled to hold a meeting today with law enforcement officials and other involved agencies to discuss re-establishment of the cones project.
As for next year, Heaney said he has already requested the town board to support the use of $370,000 in town funds to run the program for an extended period of time; the supervisor is also appealing to state representatives for assistance. Start and end dates for 2007 remain unclear, said Heaney. "We'll have to see how far the money will go."