Ferry traffic flow to Shelter Island improved in Greenport

06/09/2015 2:32 PM |
Traffic from Wiggins Street (left) is directed into the ferry line while those trying to join the line from Third Street are told to turn around and go back to Front Street unless there’s no back up of vehicles on Wiggins. (Credit: Julie Lane)

Traffic from Wiggins Street (left) is directed into the ferry line while those trying to join the line from Third Street are told to turn around and go back to Front Street unless there’s no back up of vehicles on Wiggins. (Credit: Julie Lane)

North Ferry says it’s found a simple solution to its vehicle line-up in Greenport.

“We toyed with a number of different configurations,” said General Manager Bridg Hunt.

What seems to be working as the height of the season approaches is using cones creating a barrier from the center of Wiggins Street to the center of Third Street, blocking vehicles trying to cut into the line. Drivers who do head south on Third have been turned around and told they have to go back and enter the line from Sixth and Wiggins streets.

The cones are placed during morning rush hours or Friday afternoons when traffic headed for Shelter Island is heavy. But the key has been having a ferry service employee in place to direct those coming down Third Street to head back and move to Wiggins Street.

One employee who has had that duty acknowledged that occasionally drivers object to his instructions, but he has stood firm in requiring them to turn around and go back to Front Street and then access the line correctly.

The idea of a permanent, concrete barrier to serve the purpose, was greeted by skepticism by Mr. Hunt. He noted that a barrier might impede emergency vehicles if they had to head to either a boat or the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation. But he’s not finished exploring tweaks that might improve the situation further.

Still, that’s something unlikely to happen this summer, Mr. Hunt said. After the season, he wants to brainstorm with Southold Town’s Transportation Commission.

Meanwhile, Greenport Village Administrator Paul Pallas said he’s still trying to work out an agreement with New York State to allow signs to be posted at the intersection of Front and Third streets informing drivers there is no access to the ferry there. That GPS devices still direct drivers to head south on Third Street to access the ferry line is a problem the signs might help alleviate, he said.

“The process is kind of cumbersome,” Mr. Pallas said about the signs. If both Third and Front were Village roads, the signs could easily be installed. But getting the state to take action involves more than just a letter requesting them, he said.

“We will definitely investigate the signs,” he said, explaining that a similar request had come from a member of the Village Board.

As recently as last summer, officials from North Ferry, Greenport Village and the Southold Transportation Commission were exploring a plan that would move the ferry access to Fourth and Wiggins streets, winding it in front of the Rail Road Museum and opening a fenced area to allow vehicles to flow into the existing line. That plan also called for making Wiggins, between Third and Fourth Streets, a two-way street.

But that idea required permission from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the effort to try to clear that never got under way.

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