Tree trimming along County Road 39 that caused traffic problems Tuesday morning and into the afternoon was completed and will not resume on Wednesday, as anticipated.
Originally, PSEG spokesman Jeffrey Weir said that because work was set to stop in the afternoon in response to the traffic congestion issues Tuesday morning, it might have continued on Wednesday.
Mr. Weir said there were still more tree trimming that needed to be done throughout Southampton Town, although he believed none would be on major roadways. He could not provide a time-frame for when the next one would take place.
Due to traffic concerns, PSEG said it would stop tree-trimming work along County Road 39 at 2 p.m., according to company spokesperson Jeffrey Weir.
Earlier Tuesday morning, the tree trimming—which involved the closure of the right eastbound lane on the highway—caused major traffic delays heading into Shinnecock Hills and beyond during the heart of rush hour. The work took place just after where Sunrise Highway merges into County Road 39 near the Lobster Grille Inn.
Traffic was backed up as far west as Hampton Bays.
The work, which started at 7 a.m., was part of PSEG’s Tree Trimming Program and was planned so that the company could complete it in one day. However, Mr. Weir said that because work was expected to stop Tuesday afternoon, it might resume on Wednesday at noon if it was not finished on Tuesday.
“The whole idea was to compress the schedule and get it done to one day—one day of frustration and aggravation of traffic instead of doing it over multiple days,” Mr. Weir said. “But now, after some concerns that were raised, we are going to stop work today at 2 p.m. before the evening rush.”
Mr. Weir said that unlike paving projects, tree trimming has to be done during daylight hours to ensure the safety of workers, as they deal with electrical wires and need to be able to see.
Mr. Weir said PSEG notified the Southampton Town Police Department and the Town Highway Department of the work on Monday. Representatives from the company had met with town officials a few months ago to discuss the trimming.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that while she was not notified of Tuesday’s work, she was aware that PSEG would eventually be conducting the tree trimming. She said the town welcomed the work to “keep our trees and limbs in good condition.”
As for Tuesday’s timing, the supervisor agreed with Mr. Weir.
“I guess they have to do it in daylight,” she said. “I guess they weren’t aware of the traffic delays. We’ll look into that.”
Representatives from the police department and the highway department could not be immediately reached for comment.
Mr. Weir said that PSEG was aware of the congestion that often occurs along County Road 39, but he added that the work would have caused traffic problems at any time of the day.
“We live here, we work here, we’re part of the fabric of the community. We are aware of the traffic concerns, especially at the Sunrise Highway merge,” he said. “Yes, rush hour is bad. But traffic out there no matter what time of the day [is] stalled.”
Traffic on Sunrise Highway was backed up from County Road 39 west to beyond Hampton Bays during rush hour Tuesday morning—due to tree trimming along the roadway.
An email sent by the Southampton Town Emergency Alerts system at 8:45 a.m.—the heart of morning rush hour—said that one eastbound lane would be closed while the Public Service Enterprise Group cut branches that were too close to power lines.
It was not known how long the lane would be closed. Representatives from Suffolk County and PSEG could not be immediately reached for comment.