Gurney's Inn
August 29, 2007

Green Light For CR 39 Cops And Cones Extension?

Sweet relief may be in sight.

Commuters dreading the end of the cops and cones program on CR 39 may soon breathe a sigh of relief. Normally clogged with time-consuming traffic, the well-traveled thoroughfare has allowed motorists to sail through the morning rush hour by opening an additional lane at prescribed times.

On Sunday, Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney said for weeks he has been in frequent contact with county officials, in an ongoing effort to extend the "cone" program beyond Labor Day.

"We have the necessary funding to extend the program to October 15th," he said.

The funding for the extension would total approximately $100,000.

During the talks, said Heaney, "I have stressed my concern for public safety regarding teachers and school children trapped for hours on buses, hospital workers, government employees, ambulance response times, and police and fire department responses, all being hampered by construction-related rubber-necking and gridlock during the morning commute."

Despite the fact that construction on the county's interim plan for CR 39 is slated to begin immediately after Labor Day, Heaney said Suffolk County Department of Public Works engineers have been examining the proposal. "I am confident that we have the support of County Executive Steve Levy," he said. "We both want to see the engineers find a way to make it work."

On Monday, Ed Dumas, spokesman for Levy, said he "can confirm that there have been discussions. Plans have been analyzed to see if it can be done without significant costs or delays to the road-widening project that is scheduled."

Dumas also said a decision would likely be made this week in regard to the proposal for the extension of the cops and cones program that is currently being discussed.

Last year, said Dumas, the program ended at a similar time, and talks involve ending the cops and cones program around the middle of October again this year. But, he warned, if the program is extended this year, there could be inconvenience down the line. "There will likely need to be some pain endured to motorists who traverse that road. If it doesn't come at the end of this year, it could potentially come next year."

The reason, said Dumas, is because the construction schedule in place for the contractor plans for the county's turning the road over at the end of Labor Day weekend this year, with completion slated for Memorial Day of 2008. The contract, said Dumas, was "incentive laden," with the goal being early completion. "All along, the hope was that we could turn the road over to them now, because you have a window of weather to get the project done on time, or early. Now, the request to extend the program into October is complicating that plan."

But, added Dumas, "We're certainly exploring any option to see if there is anything we can do. We're looking at everything we can do to mitigate any negative impacts."

On Sunday, Heaney said that in regard to the possible extension of the cops and cones program, there would be "more to come very soon."

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