The ongoing debate of how to make the intersection of Love Lane, Route 25 and Old Sound Avenue safer continued Saturday morning when approximately 50 community members gathered at Mattituck Presbyterian Church.
While those present agreed change is necessary, determining what exactly that should be remains up for debate.
“This is an intersection that doesn’t lend itself to being both safe and accommodating,” said John Carter, communications director at the U.S. Department of Energy. “It’s a bad intersection. It’s poorly engineered and it’s dangerous. We’re trying to reduce the risk and increase the safety.”
Together, members of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association as well as people from the community at large formed a roundtable group to discuss what they felt were the best options for the area, which also included Wickham and New Suffolk avenues.
The goal, according to civic association president Mary Eisenstein, is “creating doable, affordable, immediate changes in the community.”
Several options are being considered for the intersection, some of which were:
- prohibiting making a left turn from Love Lane onto Main Road
- making Main Road a single turning lane with a curbed island
- placing stop signs at various points of the intersection, such as the west side of Love Lane and Old Sound Avenue, the east side of Love Lane and Main Road, and the east side of Main Road and Old Sound Avenue.
Ms. Eisenstein added that over the past 10 years at least 70 accidents have occurred in the “dangerous” area.
After Mr. Carter finished explaining the roundtable’s conclusions, residents voiced their opinions. Some felt the committee’s suggestions solved the problem, whereas others disagreed.
“I think you’re creating more problems than you’re solving,” said Mattituck resident Ron McGreevy, voicing concerns that cutting off some access to Love Lane will lead to increased traffic on Wickham Avenue and that drivers will slam into the curbed island and injure themselves.
His suggestion, which many others agreed with, is to add traffic lights to Wickham Avenue and New Suffolk Avenue rather than stop signs and crosswalks. Mr. Carter said the roundtable decided against that plan because of the extensive time and cost needed to complete.
Additionally, residents said the speed limit is too high and too inconsistent in that area, the turn at the Love Lane intersection should be straightened out, speed bumps could be added and more enforcement is necessary.
“I take this intersection multiple times a day because my establishment is right here,” said Danielle LaScala, owner of Mattituck Florist. “As I’m trying to turn I’m wondering if someone is ignoring the one way signs, if this person’s not stopping and this person can’t see so they want to pull out. It’s just chaos. One big mess right there.”
Others felt the roundtable’s proposed options were exactly what the community needs. Some people fear traffic lights will cause too many traffic delays on the road, and think stop signs are the best option.
While one plan wasn’t singled out over the rest, the audience agreed during a vote that it’s necessary to make the roads safer and that the intersection in question needs immediate attention.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and New York State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo said during the meeting that the next step would be for the roundtable group to come up with Plans A, B and C for the intersection to submit to the town, county and state for review.
Mr. Russell and Mr. Palumbo agreed during the meeting that they would work together to fund the costs of a traffic study of the area. They also said that the community needs to continue to work together to showcase the New York State Department of Transportation how critical it is for everyone’s safety that this intersection be improved, as that will help their plans get approved.
“A lot of time it’s noise from the senate assembly or local residents and local highway departments,” Mr. Palumbo said. “Most often it’s sadly a tragic accident … I think that’s very important that the town gets involved. You become the squeaky wheel so you can get the grease.”
Photo Caption: Danielle LaScala points out the most dangerous aspects of the intersection near her shop, Mattituck Florist on the corner of Love Lane, Main Road and Old Sound Road. (Credit: Nicole Smith)