Southold Town may drop idea for Love Lane roundabout

Southold Town officials may drop efforts to push for a Love Lane roundabout, after hitting an “impasse” with the state.

The town Transportation Commission sent a memo to the supervisor and board about “inviting the regional [Department of Transportation] director to come meet and look at the Love Lane project,” said Town Board member Sarah Nappa at Tuesday’s work session. 

Supervisor Scott Russell said he’s willing to send the invitation, but he’s not sure it’s worth continuing to press for a roundabout at the intersection.

“I’ll send the letter out if you want me to, but I think it’s time for the town to recognize that this roundabout discussion has been going on for almost a decade. It took us years to get New York state to even consider a roundabout,” he said. 

The town’s 100-foot roundabout recommendation reached a standstill with the state in recent weeks, according to Ms. Nappa, the Transportation Commission liason to the board.

“The state is sort of at an impasse with what we’re recommending and what their sort of standard is on doing roundabouts,” she said. “The next steps that we were told is to get the attention of the regional director to come and take a specific interest in the project in order to try to have the state open sort of a special look into doing the 100-foot roundabout.”

The 100-foot roundabout had been recommended in a report accepted by the Town Board in January. Mr. Russell noted at the time that Route 25 is a state road, which means that Southold is “prohibited from spending any funds on work needed to be done within the state-owned right-of-way.” The town can fund projects on town-owned roads leading to the intersection, he said. 

The report notes that the state DOT had advised increasing the outer diameter of the roundabout to 120 feet to “better accommodate the largest tractor trailer truck, carrying a 53-foot trailer.” 

The town and consultants from AKRF, who compiled the report, agreed in the analysis that the 120-foot expansion would be “an overdesign” as County Route 48, which runs parallel to Route 25, is a designated truck route. Additionally, expanding the diameter would encroach on private property. 

The town originally proposed a 90-foot roundabout to the state, Mr. Russell said, and then “based on extensive meetings with them” expanded it to 100 feet. “They finally reviewed it, they came back and said no, it’s not good enough,” he added.

Expanding the roundabout would require negotiating with a lot of businesses, he pointed out, and even though it wouldn’t require a lot of land from each, “it would still be land needed.” The state would need to pursue and pay for eminent domain proceedings with several properties to pursue the larger roundabout design, in addition to the cost of the roundabout’s construction, he said.

Furthermore, “that’s not the most dangerous intersection,” Mr. Russell pointed out.  

The highest crash locations in town are at the intersections of County Route 48 and Wickham Avenue, and Route 25 and Main Bayview Road/Ackerly Pond Lane, according to data collected between 2015 and 2017. The intersections of NY State Route 25 and County Route 48, and County Route 48 and Cox Lane both had more accidents than the Love Lane intersection in that time period as well, the report says.

“I think it’s time for the town to say look, I get it, it’s unsafe, but dragging this out and fighting a fight that it just doesn’t look like we’re going to win, isn’t making it any safer,” Mr. Russell said. He thinks the Transportation Commission should consider other options recommended in the study. 

Some alternatives recommended in the report include only allowing right turns at the southbound Love Lane approach, prohibiting ​​eastbound Route 25 left turns onto Love Lane or adding a three-phase traffic signal.

“I appreciate everybody’s really been very invested in this emotionally, and some of them still very much want it,” Mr. Russell said. 

Town Board member Jill Doherty said she agreed. It looks like a “no-win situation,” she said. 

Ms. Nappa suggested sending the letter to see what the state says. Ms. Doherty suggested also mentioning that the Transportation Commission would be open to discussing other options, as well as the roundabout. 

“You could do that, but I really do think that we’ve already done that a hundred times. Of course our angle has always been look, consider the roundabout, consider the roundabout,” Mr. Russell said. “There’s no reason, if we keep moving forward with the same discussion over the same options, we’re going to get anywhere. Personally I think, best effort we can make, but ultimately they want to go in a different direction. It’s their road, I don’t think we have a choice.”

He said the town should say the intersection is “very dangerous” and “very concerning to us” and ask what the state can do to improve safety.