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Support grows for proposed East End transportation council

Art Tillman

Although Southold Town Board members discussed reservations they have about a bill in the state Legislature to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council during a work session last month, Supervisor Scott Russell said Tuesday they haven’t dismissed it altogether.

Mr. Russell said he has reached out to Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) to arrange a meeting with a legislative aide so the town can better understand the goals of the legislation and relay their concerns about it. These concerns include a “one-town, one-vote” on the council, the fact that the legislation doesn’t address ferries, the overall authority the council would have, and worries it would have a South Fork focus.

Art Tillman, chairman of the Southold Town Democratic Committee, urged the board to pass a resolution on the proposed transportation council, which would include state and local officials and one resident from each of the five East End towns, with the goal of alleviating transportation issues on both forks. Christopher North of Greenport also told the board he supports the council with the aim of improving the bus system.

Mr. Tillman said locals need better access to colleges, jobs, entertainment and airports that are “up island” and that East End towns should make their wishes known. He pointed to a 2009 Volpe National Transportation Systems Center study the bill references that discusses the possibility of a transportation authority for eastern Long Island that would be separate from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Bur Mr. Russell said the 16-page study didn’t necessarily say that idea is viable.

“It said it’s feasible if this happens then that happens,” he said. “Those are big ifs and we need to evaluate those at another time.”

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Photo: (Credit: Kelly Zegers)