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Engineers conclude roundabout is best option for Love Lane intersection

Following a long-pending study, engineers are formally recommending the construction of a roundabout to ease traffic at the intersection of Love Lane and Main Road in Mattituck.

In the report, which was accepted for completion by the Town Board in January, consultants from AKRF found the roundabout would slow down traffic at the intersection as a result of drivers yielding and the possibility of right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions would be “virtually eliminated.”

The intersection, described in the report as “wide” and “skewed,” is the fifth-highest crash location within Southold Town, according to data collected between 2015 and 2017. The top crash location noted in the report was the three-way intersection of Route 25, Main Bayview Road and Ackerly Pond Lane, according to the report.

Eight of the 12 crashes at the intersection involved vehicles either making left turns from Route 25 onto Love Lane or exiting from Love Lane onto Route 25, according to data collected.

The consultants were hired to prepare the study after the Town Board deemed a previous study inadequate in 2018. The most recent study features an expanded scope and includes the eight arterial roads that feed into Route 25 within the impact area.

Immediate safety concerns and long-term goals about walkability in the hamlet center drove the push for the study, according to Mattituck Laurel Civic Association president Anne Smith. Ms. Smith said Friday that the expanded study will be reviewed with MLCA members and the greater community, including Love Lane merchants, as well as the town.

“This study appears to be thorough and well supported in the data, albeit the significant increase in traffic since last year is a new layer for consideration,” Ms. Smith said.

In order to construct the roundabout, a small part of vacant land in front of the Presyterian Church would need to be acquired as an easement. Engineers also recommended prohibiting left turns from new Suffolk Avenue onto Route 25 westbound, forcing drivers to use the roundabout to either continue east or loop back around.

“According to anecdotal accounts, some motorists destined to the west do not attempt this left turn now, and turn right to use Love Lane or Sound Avenue to reach their destination,” the study said.

Two other options, including a traffic light and measures to limit left turns both onto and from Love Lane, were also considered, but the state Department of Transportation, town officials and county engineers preferred the roundabout for its overall safety.

NYSDOT officials expressed a dislike for the traffic light since “it would have the potential to create long queues and frustrate motorists with new delays on eastbound and westbound Route 25 where there are none now,” according to the report.

The roundabout, which could cost $1 to $2 million to design and construct, could take between two and five years to construct, the study found. Costs to improve sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian improvements would tack on another $500,000.

Town supervisor Scott Russell said if supported by the community, the next step would be engaging state representatives and the NYSDOT. 

“[Route 25] is a state road, so Southold would be prohibited from spending any funds on work needed to be done within the state-owned right-of-way,” he said, noting that the town could fund projects on town-owned roads leading to the intersection.

Whichever design ultimately moves forward, engineers recommended bicycle lanes be considered in order to preserve Route 25 as an “important regional bike route.” The use of “gateway treatments,” intended to alert drivers that they are entering a slow speed area, were also recommended and could include landscaped, decorative signage at both ends of the hamlet. Gateway treatments not only calm traffic, but also give a sense of place and can incorporate historic, art, or cultural elements reflective of the Mattituck-Laurel area,” according to the study.

Ms. Smith said those measures along with the new Comprehensive Plan in place, will help frame the ongoing discussions. 

“In essence this is not just about traffic,” she said. “The creation of a viable hamlet center for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to enter our hamlet with ease and a desire to stop and visit will help this area grow and thrive is important to us.”

Before any decisions are made, the Town Board is planning to hold a public input meeting on the plan, which is available to view online