East Hampton Village will see a series of traffic-related changes this fall intended to improve safety and curtail congestion and speeding on Newtown Lane, Railroad Avenue, Gingerbread Lane, and neighboring roads, Village Engineer Drew Bennett said at a Village Board meeting on Friday.
Mr. Bennett presented plans to create four lanes of traffic on Newtown Lane, two in each direction. Currently, the road has one eastbound lane up until Waldbaum’s, where it splits to two eastbound lanes. The road has one westbound lane closer to East Hampton High School. The creation of four lanes will eliminate the center turning lane in order to create two lanes heading west, Mr. Bennett said. The work will not require any additional paving or construction, he added, since it can be done by repainting the lines.
“Four lanes of traffic will facilitate traffic flow and pedestrian flow,” Mr. Bennett said during the meeting. “Considering the volume of traffic on this road, two travel lanes in each direction is better.”
Although the board agreed, it has not yet decided where on Newtown Lane the four lanes should begin, said Village Administrator Becky Molinaro during a meeting at her office on Monday.
To further help reduce congestion in the area, Mr. Bennett said, the plans also include moving the Suffolk County bus station, now located on the opposite side of the crosswalk from the middle school, about 150 feet east toward Main Street.
“We would very much be in support of moving the bus station farther up, away from the current crosswalk,” said East Hampton School District Superintendent Rich Burns during the Village Board meeting. “That would be very helpful.”
School Board member Rich Wilson said he, too, supported moving the bus station farther down Newtown Lane toward Main Street after observing a group of men at the bus station “eying up” a group of young girls crossing the street to get to sports practice at the park.
“It creeped me out,” he said. “That’s the most important reason, is the safety of these kids, especially with everything you’re hearing in the news these days.”
The village has an inquiry in to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman about the relocation of the bus shelter, Ms. Molinaro said Monday.
Both School Board and Village Board members also raised concerns about speed if the road were to become four lanes.
“I don’t want it to become what Main Street is, where people speed up,” said Village Board member Rick Lawler. “We’d need some speed enforcement and maybe some permanent radar speed signs.”
East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said the state had authorized money for radar speed cameras in school districts, and that the village would investigate how to apply for grants.
Board member Barbara S. Borsack suggested putting in an illuminated crosswalk like the ones on Main Street and near the Golden Pear on Newtown Lane, adding that since the village is going to repave and re-stripe the road, “it would make sense to do it now.”
Collectively, the Village Board decided that all crosswalks east of the middle school should be illuminated for safety reasons.
Additionally, the village will install electrical conduits by the Park Place and Newtown Lane intersection, from which it is “basically impossible” to make a left-hand turn, Mr. Bennett said.
While the board is undecided as to whether it will put in a flashing light or a full traffic light at the intersection, it is beneficial to have the electrical hook-up to do so, said Ms. Molinaro.
Another possibility is adding another lane from North Main Street onto Newtown Lane. Currently, there is a single, right-hand-only lane onto Newtown from North Main. The additional lane would be a right-hand turning lane in which cars could also go straight, and it would not require the village to remove the concrete median underneath the traffic light, said Ms. Molinaro.
The project would also include reworking some of the curbs on Newtown Lane, Gingerbread Lane and Race Lane to be “less steep,” Ms. Molinaro said, to prevent people from scraping their car doors against the concrete; as well as reconstructing a deteriorating concrete island by the train station on Railroad Avenue.
The plans are still subject to change, Ms. Molinaro said, as the board is still providing Mr. Bennett with feedback. Construction is set to begin sometime this fall, which Mr. Burns said would work well for the School District. Initial estimates for the project are approximately $1.2 million, according to Ms. Molinaro, and would will be funded through a combination of borrowing and state transportation aid.