A fatal collision between a Hampton Jitney bus and an SUV on Route 39 in Southampton Thursday morning, coupled with a construction-related road closure on Route 48, lead to traffic headaches in Greenport for much of the day.
After the Southampton crash at about 7 a.m., Route 39, one of only two main east-west roads on the South Fork, was closed in both directions and the eastbound lane didn’t reopen until 1 p.m. As of 2:45 p.m., the westbound lane was still closed.
As a result, starting at mid-morning, a considerable amount of traffic ended up on the North Fork heading toward the Shelter Island Ferry in Greenport, said Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley.
The marked ferry route directs vehicles to turn right from Route 25 in Greenport down 6th Street to Wiggins Street, which ends at Third Street near a ferry staging area. But it appears GPS systems directed them elsewhere.
“People aren’t aware of the traffic patterns down there and went right down 3rd Street and cut in front of those waiting and went right on the ferry, and that doesn’t go over well,” the chief said.
Some drivers realizing their mistake made U-turns in the middle of 3rd Street and others drove the wrong way west on Wiggins, which is one-way heading east, the chief added.
Police responded by setting up a traffic detail near the ferry terminal.
Traffic was already heavy eastbound on Main Road in Greenport due to construction on the North Road’s east bound lane. From 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday traffic is diverted down Chapel Lane to Main Road. During that time the North Road is closed between Chapel and Moores Lane.
With Thursday’s unseasonably cool weather, fewer people apparently went to the beach and more were out on the highway, the chief said.
He said the traffic was expected to thin out when Route 48’s eastbound lane reopened at 3:30.