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Riverhead, Southold may team up to address seasonal traffic concerns

05/13/2019 6:00 AM |

The two North Fork towns may team up to address seasonal traffic concerns, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio announced at a work session Thursday.

Officials from both towns met with transportation companies earlier this week to discuss the possibility of applying for consolidated grant funding to come up with a mobility plan for the North Fork, Ms. Giglio said.

“There were a lot of ideas, so much to throw into a letter of intent,” she said, which is due at the end of this month. The deadline for applying for the grant is in July and Ms. Giglio said she was waiting for the go-ahead from officials in Southold.

When asked by Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith if the grant would fund another study of the area, Ms. Giglio said she’d rather focus on applying recommendations made in past studies.

“We already have plenty of studies,” Ms. Giglio said. “We want to go back, look at the studies and put forth an implementation plan.”

Such plans could involve more public parking areas where visitors can park and then use public transportation to navigate the North Fork and working more closely with the two largest “people movers” here: the ferries and Hampton Jitney, Ms. Giglio said.

“Anything to ease the traffic, people will be happy,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.

At a meeting of a traffic task force last fall, the supervisors of both towns agreed that additional trained traffic control officers should be stationed at identified “choke points” to help move vehicles and pedestrians along.

“That is something we’re trying to implement this year,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.

Riverhead Councilman Tim Hubbard welcomed the idea.

“No one thing is going to cure [traffic],” he said. “It’s many little approaches that are going to help chip away at the whole problem.”

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell agreed when asked about the partnership Thursday. “Taking a regional approach is the right idea and has historically always been,” he said, adding that each fall, the police chiefs from each town coordinate to address the traffic crisis. 

Though he supports the idea of working toward regional solutions to the ongoing issue, Mr. Russell said he’d need to see the scope and goals of the partnership before committing. 

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