A study of Greenport’s transportation hub around the ferry, bus stop and train station has outlined several options for reconfiguring the area to better accommodate traffic and pedestrian access. One of them would flip Wiggins Street to a one-way street going west instead of east.
The two-year study was conducted by a private, nonprofit group called Regional Plan Association, done in conjunction with village officials and a village transportation committee.
RPA has an on-call contract with the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency that enables municipalities to request its help at no charge in planning downtowns or transit-oriented areas, according to Robert Lane, a senior fellow for urban design with RPA.
Mr. Lane presented the study recommendations at the Oct. 25 Greenport Village Board meeting, where he highlighted three possible approaches for Greenport’s ferry area, one of which was developed independently of RPA by the village transportation committee.
Mr. Lane said the transportation committee has described the problem at the transportation hub follows:
“Pedestrians must currently navigate a traffic-dominated, unappealing and hazardous situations that hampers attendance at both [the Railroad Museum of Long Island and East End Seaport Museum], leads to under-utilization of the parking lot south of the tracks and fails to support the economic vitality of the village.”
But, Mr. Lane said, “Sometimes when you live here, you don’t realize what a jewel you have here.”
Other communities would be thrilled to have one of the museums or the train station, and Greenport has them all, he said.
The proposal to flip the direction of Wiggins Street came from RPA.
Mr. Lane said this alternative, which redirects the flow of traffic on Wiggins Street, was enthusiastically received by RPA and is the plan he thinks is best.
Traffic heading to the North Ferry often backs up in front houses on Wiggins Street.
This option, Mr. Lane called it, would involve the following changes :
• Wiggins Street going one-way westbound.
• Access to the Railroad Museum from Fourth Street;
• Parking in the ferry landing area would be eliminated;
• Reconfiguration of the so-called Jitney lot, which Mr. Lane said is laid out inefficiently, to create 15 more parking spaces.
• Eliminating the turn-around area in front of the ferry dock.
The proposal also shows southbound non-ferry traffic on Third Street turning right onto Wiggins Street. Cars leaving the ferry would head north on Third Street.
The line to enter the ferry would come off Fourth Street and onto what is now a parking lot between the two museums.
Traffic also could head south on Fourth Street and turn left into the existing jitney parking, just south of the railroad tracks, according to this alternative.
This plan would have traffic exiting the ferry head north on Third Street, as is currently the case, but it recommends some major changes for the rest of Third Street traffic.
• Wiggins Street would remain one-way east but it would not be the ferry road. Instead, traffic from Wiggins Street could turn north onto Third Street or it could turn south onto the Railroad Museum parking lot.
• Cars heading south on Third Street but not going to the ferry could turn right into the parking lot by Sterlington Deli and other shops, and then could also exit onto Front Street from this lot, according to Mr. Lane.
This proposal would require negotiations with the property owners for use of an easement to use the property, Mr. Lane said.
• As with Alternative 3, cars would enter the line to get on the ferry by turning left from Fourth Street into the parking lot between the museums, and cars entering the parking lot south of the railroad also would do so from Fourth Street.
• Turn-arounds in the ferry landing area would be eliminated.
• The transportation committee’s plan would continue to have Wiggins Street be one way east but it would move the line to enter the ferry to the lot between the two museums and create several lanes, instead of just one.
• Access to the Railroad Museum would be from Fourth Street;
• Parking in the ferry landing area would remain;
• The ferry landing turn-around remains.
The area just north of this would have one-way parking with a series of front-end in parallel parking spaces.
The committee “had made most of the big moves themselves,” Mr. Lane said.
All of the proposed alternatives would include redesigned crosswalks and pedestrian walkways to the museums and the parking area south of the railroad.
“Who’s paying?” Trustee Doug Roberts asked.
Mr. Lane said there are potential funding sources the village could seek. He said some of the other areas that RPA has worked with, such as Lindenhurst and Amityville, have been able to get funding to carry out a plan by RPA.
RPA’s study for the village is free but the implementation of the plan is not.
Mr. Roberts pointed out that this proposal would involve two municipalities — the village and the Town of Shelter Island — as well as the private North Ferry Company.
Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said the village still has about $325,000 originally intended for Mitchell Park in the 1990s, and that money is proposed for whatever plan is chosen for the ferry area redesign, he said. That money is still available, he said, and the village plans to leverage it for this purpose, he said.
Don Fisher, president of the Railroad Museum and a member of the transportation committee, praised Mr. Lane’s work.
He said Mr. Lane took some of the transportation committee’s ideas and “snapped them into focus.”
Photo caption: Robert Lane, a senior fellow for urban design with RPA, spoke at the meeting. (Tim Gannon photo)