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Southold Transportation Commission hoping to fix North Ferry traffic

11/24/2015 11:00 AM |

Phillips

Upset over congestion caused by the North Ferry, Greenport Village residents are calling for changes to be made to decrease the amount of traffic created by those traveling to Shelter Island and the South Fork. 

At Monday’s Southold Town Transportation Commission meeting, Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said residents have voiced frustrations to her about multiple problems created by ferry traffic and that the matter has now become a safety issue.

“What has happened is the East End of Long Island has become a destination, and their larger boats can’t keep up with everything,” she said. “So, in our success story we now have the poor village residents, which is not fair to them. We have to patch roads, we have to do a lot of work and it’s not benefiting us.”

Ms. Phillips said people driving to Greenport to take the ferry aren’t stopping to appreciate all the village has to offer. And the cars are adding wear and tear to local roads.

“We do get some benefit in the summertime because some people stop, but I’ll be honest with you — I think if we had someone down there with a survey asking, ‘Did you stop in the village anywhere?’ [People would say] ‘No, it’s run for the ferry.’ ”

Representatives from North Ferry didn’t attend Monday’s meeting.

One way the transportation commission is considering alleviating the problem is to contact GPS companies, such as Google Maps, about changing the route devices use to send people to the ferry.

Currently, Google Maps directs vehicles down Third Street. The Transportation Commission suggested that traffic enter the ferry using Sixth Street instead.

North Ferry tried to alleviate the Third Street problem in June when it created a cone barrier from the center of Wiggins Street to the corner of Third Street in an attempt to “block vehicles trying to cut the line,” according to a Shelter Island Reporter article. The cones are placed during morning rush hours and Friday afternoons, when traffic to Shelter Island is especially heavy.

But Ms. Phillips and Village of Greenport administrative assistant Derryl Baumer said that isn’t enough to fix the growing problem.

“I just, at this point, think that North Ferry has got to start working with us,” Ms. Phillips said. “They need to start coming up to the plate.”

Mr. Baumer said the current road situation creates a collection point he described as a “fishbowl of an area” near the boats, where people sometimes disobey traffic control measures in order to quickly escape the congestion.

Another problem is that some roads are owned by the village, some are owned by the state, and others are owned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Ms. Phillips said.

Commission members also said the village needs to work with the North Ferry, Town of Shelter Island and South Fork officials in order to fix the traffic issue, since vehicles are traveling between all three locations.

The commission asked Ms. Phillips and Mr. Baumer to return to the Jan. 25 general meeting with an agenda detailing the problems with ferry traffic, as well as potential solutions.

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