I’m writing regarding the problem of extreme traffic congestion on both our roads during the fall (pumpkin) season. On one hand, it’s great to see one of our local merchants (in this case Harbes) doing so well, and it’s also nice to see that so many non-local folks want to share in some of the charms of what we experience here on the North Fork.
On the other hand, I think many would agree that the excessive traffic congestion we experience during the fall has become a quality of life issue for many local residents.
I have a few ideas for a solution that may be worthy of consideration. First, let’s define the core problem: There are two Harbes locations on Sound Avenue that are especially popular during the fall. The problem occurs for about six weeks on weekends between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., creating a traffic backup of approximately 80 minutes.
The solution I am suggesting would eliminate vehicles turning across the North Road, as well as pedestrians crossing North Road during the times of peak congestion. Parking for these two sites would need to be provided on the south side of the road, along with a roadside buffer to accept several vehicles as they pull into the lot. When these vehicles leave the site, they would be directed to travel east only, and then south along the next suitable road to Main Road, where they would be directed to travel west only. This would require signage and police presence during the hours and days previously identified as times of extreme traffic congestion.
Regarding eliminating pedestrian crossings, only two solutions are feasible:
1. Construct a movable stair/railing and bridge overpass that can be placed in position either on weekends or for the season that would allow traffic to pass under while allowing pedestrians to walk over, or 2. Place a finished culvert under the North Road with ramped and railed approaches on either side to allow foot traffic to pass through.
I realize that there would be costs associated with implementing the traffic solution I’ve described. However, this situation has been created primarily by the success of the two Harbes locations and there are profits associated with that success. Therefore, I don’t believe it would be unfair to ask the Harbes family to bear the cost of mitigating the problem they’ve inadvertently created.
So there are two courses of action available to our community: We can continue to complain about this quality of life issue and essentially see nothing done to resolve it (as has been the case for the past few years) or we can put pressure on the appropriate entities to implement an actual resolution to the problem.
Chris Chiaffitelli, Orient
The North Fork at a crossroads
Tim Gannon’s article in last week’s Suffolk Times, “Searching for answers to fall farm traffic on the North Fork,” is the latest in a string of stories about the challenges the North Fork’s ever-increasing tourism economy has created. And it begs the question: Is the North Fork selling its soul to the highest bidder?
There’s no question that tourism has been a positive for the North Fork. It has grown the local economy and provided small business opportunities to those who may not have had them previously.
But being lauded as the Hamptons’ unpretentious, pastoral neighbor to the north has come at a cost — namely an increase in traffic that highlights an insufficient infrastructure, a housing and permanent jobs crisis that is forcing locals (young and old) out, and skyrocketing prices that have widened the gulf between “rich” and “poor.”
This trend is not sustainable. Appealing to tourists exclusively does not support a year-round economy and is leading to a depreciation in quality of life for residents. If this trend continues, we risk a stable town turning into a transient one full of seasonal employees that turn the lights on and put on a show part of the year. The cost of this will be far higher than frustration over traffic or high prices – it will be the loss of the people, culture and history that make the North Fork what it is.
We must find balance before it’s too late. Because the real tragedy would be to find ourselves living on a North Fork that can no longer recognize itself.
Nicole Flotteron, Cutchogue
Station more traffic control officers
In response to the editorial and article about traffic problems on Sound Avenue, I have seen similar problems alleviated with the use of traffic control officers. Traffic controllers should be stationed at every major intersection and farm entrance between Route 105 and the traffic light at Old North Road in Mattituck. The controllers should have contact with each other for the efficient control of the traffic. This way during the six weeks of fall traffic, the time spent in the car would be a plus, not a minus, and local traffic could continue at a slower but more normal rate.
The farmers also have a responsibility to position their parking areas deeper into their property, with one two-lane road for entrance and exit. In addition, they should have someone stationed in their parking areas to control the parking. The front parking areas should be for handicapped parking only.
These suggestions may not be perfect, but they will help ease a terrible situation.
Sanford Hanauer, Riverhead