The Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association on Monday night laid out three options for traffic solutions at the intersection of Love Lane, Old Sound Avenue and Main Road.
The options are the result of research and input going back to 1999, when the Scenic Southold Corridor Management Plan was completed, followed by the 2005 Town of Southold Hamlet Study and the 2011 Mattituck Business Corridor Study. From March 2015 to April 2016, MLCA canvassed in front of of the Mattituck and Laurel post offices, Handy Pantry and the former Waldbaum’s to gather public opinion.
There has been several public meetings throughout this time where residents have voiced concerns for traffic and pedestrian safety at this intersection and in the hamlet as a whole. Other general concerns expressed included traffic flow on Love Lane, access to businesses and the impact on parking.
In November, Dunn Engineering Associates P.C. of Westhampton Beach completed a traffic calming draft report for this intersection.
Option 1 suggests using medians, raised pavement and crosswalks and other traffic calming methods to mediate traffic movement. There would be stop signs at the corner of Love Lane and on the corner where westbound traffic turns off Main Road onto Love Lane. There would be no left turn allowed out of Love Lane onto Route 25.
“The reason for that is we feel that to do that turn you have to cross three lanes of traffic before you enter the fourth lane of traffic,” MLCA President John Carter said. “If you’ve looked at the intersection, it tries the patience of drivers and almost makes them take risky maneuvers.”
Mr. Carter pointed out this would be the cheapest of the three options and adaptable to future development in the area. However this option may cause a ripple effect on other streets and there may be a change in the traffic and parking pattern on Love Lane and Old Sound Avenue.
Option 2 builds onto the first option, but includes traffic lights to mitigate flow from Main Road to Love Lane and Old Sound Avenue and vice versa. This option will be more expensive than the first, but it would allow for a left turn off Love Lane on to Main Road.
Option 3, the one that got most attention from audience members, is a roundabout.
“It is especially efficient at moving traffic through an unusual or somehow irregular intersections, such as we have here,” Mr. Carter said.
Several community members spoke about the options and gave suggestions, such as making Love Lane a one way north road, lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25, and installing rumble strips.
Town engineer Jamie Richter explained that a roundabout is different than the traffic circle on Route 58 in Riverhead. This would be smaller than that, and just be one lane of traffic, not two, and would keep pedestrians in mind.
“There would be raised islands in the middle of the roads, so you would only be crossing one lane of traffic at a time,” Mr. Richter said.
Many residents suggested the town implement some sort of intermediary solution while they wait for a plan to be adopted. However, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski warned that the solutions can be costly, and may impede efforts to get the desired option finished.
Michael Collins brought up the fact that Main Road is a state road, so everything must be approved by the County and State in order for any of these options to proceed. Mr. Richter estimated the roundabout project at about $6 million to $10 million.
“People don’t know how to use a traffic circle,” Robert Harper said. “I’ve seen many many close calls in Riverhead. To me this is very, very dangerous to cross and people ignore pedestrian crossing signs.”
Traffic lights were also questioned, because they could could cause backups in traffic.
“It seems all the bottlenecks happen at the traffic lights,” Mr. Harper added.
Community input will be submitted to the Southold Town Board. The next step is take the information gathered at the public hearing to a meeting with the state and county, according to Mr. Collins.
Photo caption: Three options for traffic at Love Lane intersection.