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Town Engineer: Roundabout ‘most practical solution’ for Love Lane

The most viable option for improving traffic flow and safety at the Love Lane intersection in Mattituck is a roundabout, similar to the one on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, according to town engineer Jamie Richter.

“I believe it will work,” he said Monday at a meeting of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association.

The MCLA held a Mattituck Hamlet Traffic Improvement Round Table in April 2016 that resulted in a Traffic Calming Project Report. The report laid out three options for addressing traffic problems at the intersection of Love Lane, Old Sound Avenue and Main Road.

“We were looking for ways to not stop traffic, but slow it down,” MLCA member and architect Meryl Kramer said Monday.

Once the solutions were submitted to the town, engineers began reviewing each option point by point. From traffic control lights to allowable left and right turns, a roundabout was deemed the best option. MCLA board member John Carter said the group was not all that interested in pursuing a roundabout, as per its 2016 report, due to cost and time factors.

Mr. Richter said that, as currently proposed, the Love Lane roundabout would be 10 feet wider than the one in Sag Harbor — giving tractor-trailers ample space to make turns.

A draft traffic study commissioned by the town, conducted late last year by engineering firm AKRF, was introduced at Monday’s meeting, outlining the options that were considered as they relate to the Love Lane intersection and highlighting relevant statistics. It has not yet been officially released.

“Right now, it’s short and sweet … It’s pretty much going back over all of the ideas that you people generated and gave to us in the first place — and the best, most practicable solution was the roundabout,” Mr. Richter said. “We met with the Department of Transportation, [Councilman] Bill Ruland was there, the supervisor was there, we met with our consultant … what we were hoping for walking out of that meeting was that we just didn’t get an impossible ‘No, this is never going to happen.’ We didn’t get that.”

Mr. Richter said the proposed design was sent to the DOT’s roundabout division in Albany and is currently under review. When the town hears back from the DOT, it can schedule a public meeting to share updates on a potential redesign and as an open forum for feedback. Securing grants and/or private funding will still be up to the town, according to Mr. Ruland.

MLCA members expressed mixed reactions. Their main concern was fitting the roundabout into the available space.

Mr. Richter said acquiring additional property would not be necessary.

Mr. Ruland clarified further by saying that the term “roundabout” is a misnomer because “it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle.”

“The cars coming eastbound will be able to turn the corner, go around the roundabout and go into Love Lane, go into Sound Avenue, or end up going in the other direction,” Mr. Richter said. He also mentioned that the Town Board is looking into expanding the scope of the traffic study beyond the intersection at Love Lane due to other issues that have arisen nearby.

Additional concerns from Monday’s meeting centered on increasing the police presence on Love Lane and the fact that cars are often parked so far out from the curb that maneuvering along the narrow roadway becomes nearly impossible. Mr. Ruland said he’s been speaking with the police chief about possibly adding a traffic control officer to the area and developing a system whereby those who park farther than 18 inches from the curb will receive a warning and perhaps be ticketed for a second offense. That plan is still under discussion and all mentioned advancements are pending DOT approval.

Mr. Richter mentioned, too, that the town is considering adding bulb-outs, or curb extensions, at certain intersections to help control the length of crosswalks and minimize the distance pedestrians must travel to cross the street, as well as potential bike lane provisions.

He estimated that construction of a roundabout would take 18 months, since as it will be built from scratch, and said the cost depends entirely on if and which parts of the current plan receive DOT approval.

“It’s not a couple hundred thousand dollars to do this,” Mr. Richter said. “ I would estimate $5 million or more.”

An update on proposed changes to Mattituck’s Raymond Dean Municipal Parking Lot in Mattituck was also announced Monday. The overflowing lot’s lack of space and inadequate snow cleanup — often a result of improperly parked vehicles and nonexistent enforcement — have long been sources of strife within the community. Since October 2018, when Suffolk County awarded MLCA $56,300 to redesign and rebuild the lot, a significant portion of the lot’s drainage problem has been addressed, Mr. Richter said. The number of additional parking spaces has been increased from the initially estimated 30 spaces to 80. The town owns 57 of those spaces and has planned for three designated handicapped-only spots.

“To maximize the grant, we’re trying to maximize the parking spaces,” Mr. Ruland said. “We’re going to manage the spots we have and we have to make that stick.” This may require timed parking and/or the issuing of tickets by a traffic control officer.

Some MLCA members questioned whether this lot would be part of the town’s downtown beautification initiative, highlighting the need for trees in or around the space. Though the MCLA’s county grant does not cover trees, Mr. Ruland said, the town is in talks with its parks committee to see what can be done.

Trash cans and garbage bins will no longer be allowed in the lot, opening up roughly half a dozen parking spaces.

“It can’t be a Band-Aid today and we hope it’s going to be better tomorrow,” Mr. Ruland, who has lived in Mattituck for 70 years, said of the improvements. “We need to enforce this.”

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