North Ferry line re-routing set aside for now

The North Ferry line stretching down Wiggins Street in Greenport in July 2013. (Ambrose Clancy photo, file)
The North Ferry line stretching down Wiggins Street in Greenport in July 2013. (Ambrose Clancy photo, file)

Almost a year has passed with no action to reroute North Ferry traffic in Greenport and a meeting Friday between the ferry company’s general manager and Railroad Museum officials appears to be unrelated to any change.

The GM, Bridg Hunt, called it “a classic case” of people drawing conclusions with incomplete information.

The meeting was set at the request of Railroad Museum officials who recently told Greenport Village that it no longer should be involved in a lease agreement of that property.

Village administrator Paul Pallas said the discussion is unrelated to a traffic rerouting plan and admitted since the idea dropped off the radar last summer, he hasn’t “given any thought” to any change in the traffic pattern.

He predicted that Mr. Hunt’s meeting would be “administrative” in nature.

“I’m not sure there’s even smoke there — it’s not even smoldering,” Mr. Hunt said about any proposal to reroute ferry-bound traffic in Greenport.

North Ferry personnel are often assigned to control the Greenport line because of congestion during the peak season — from Memorial Day through Labor Day — because traffic congestion results from vehicles legally entering the line from Wiggins Street and illegally from Third Street.

On occasion, when the Third Street line becomes long enough, it can back up to Front Street — a main village roadway. Sometimes Southold Town police get involved in helping to direct the summer traffic of people heading to Shelter Island or cutting across the Island to reach the Hamptons.

The problem is not entirely the fault of those drivers on Third Street, many of whom are using GPS devices that direct them to head south on Third Street. No signs appear at Front and Third Street to inform drivers to proceed to Sixth Street to access Wiggins Street to join the ferry line. The only signs are at Sixth and Front streets and those are visible only to eastbound traffic — and small enough to be easily missed.

With Memorial Day a few months away, Mr. Pallas said Greenport could decide to enhance signage to redirect drivers to the correct access point for North Ferry or look for other ways to improve traffic flow.

But at the moment, there’s nothing brewing related to a traffic reroute on either side of the water, both men confirmed.

When a plan emerged last spring, it called for ferry-bound traffic to head south along Sixth Street to Wiggins Street, then to turn right at Fourth Street and proceed in front of the Railroad Museum and into the line that would be accessed by opening up fencing that currently separates the museum from the ferry line.

That plan, too, engendered criticisms with concerns that the new route would just move the congestion a few blocks, but still result in a logjam — this time at Wiggins and Sixth Street.

Railroad Museum president Don Fisher even penned a Guest Spot in a May 2014 edition of The Suffolk Times calling for the plans to be scrapped.

That plan would have required permission from the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which oversees the Long Island Rail Road and owns the land.

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