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Tragedy sparks traffic concerns at Chapel Lane intersection

09/12/2019 6:00 AM |

In April 2013, Diane Bianculli, 65, of Mattituck suffered minor injuries in a car accident at the intersection of Route 48 and Chapel Lane in Greenport. 

Following the incident, she said, she asked the Southold Police Department to conduct a traffic study on the intersection. Police said they would investigate, but Ms. Bianculli said she did not follow up on the status of the study at the time.

When Ms. Bianculli saw headlines that 10-year-old Amber Stulsky of Greenport — the daughter of one of her co-workers at Peconic Landing — died last Tuesday night in a car crash at that same intersection, her concerns resurfaced.

The accident prompted Ms. Bianculli to inquire as to which local municipality could modify the intersection. She said the Suffolk County Department of Public Works will investigate the area and forward any information to her regarding the study.

Other residents have raised similar concerns and proposed installing a traffic light.

Greenport resident Penelope Rudder said even though she rarely uses Route 48, the bend in the road near Chapel Lane makes it difficult for drivers to see the turning lane. She said she’d support a traffic light being placed at the intersection.

“You got to have 90 sets of eyes, it seems, any time you drive anywhere,” Ms. Rudder said. “With the increase of traffic that’s coming in, I feel that anything you can do to make everyone safer, I think, is a great idea.”

Amber Stulsky

Greenport resident Marilyn White Corwin, who has family members in the Greenport Fire Department, said by installing a traffic light at that intersection, it could lead to a slippery slope of additional lights.

“If they put a light on Chapel Lane, then they need to put a light on Albertson Lane, and they need a light on Moores Lane,” she said. “For example, people coming off the ferry — there are quite a few cars heading west. Can you imagine if there was a traffic light there? It would back up so far.”

She added that some accidents could be avoided if more people used caution when driving near the intersection.

“A lot of the problem is that people just don’t stop,” Ms. White Corwin said. “It’s a matter of taking your time and really making sure no one is coming.”

Greenport Village trustee Mary Bess Phillips said the area is not in the village’s jurisdiction and a decision cannot come from the board. She said she’s seen other fatal car accidents at the location and feels now is the time for Suffolk County to act.

“If Suffolk County has this projects in the works, they need to move a little faster,” she said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said it’s premature to speculate on solutions.

“A tragedy that devastated the community just took place,” Mr. Russell said in an email. “My understanding is that Suffolk County will be evaluating the intersection soon and we will provide any support they need or requests they ask of us.”

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said Tuesday that he has not heard about the potential of adding a traffic light to the intersection but directed the question to the Department of Public Works.

The Department of Public Works in a statement said it “will be undertaking a traffic study to determine the viability and necessity of a traffic light and/or a lower speed limit at the intersection.”

Amber’s memorial services were held Monday at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold and graveside services were held Tuesday at Saint Agnes R.C. Cemetery in Greenport.

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