Nearly a year since they were installed, the new traffic patterns on Noyac Road near Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone General Store are almost here to stay.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Southampton Town Board is slated to fold the new traffic patterns into the town code, making them a permanent fixture. The public, however, will have the opportunity to comment on the design, which includes about 300 feet of new roadway added last year in an attempt to lessen the severity of the curve near the two stores, as well as a concrete median to set off a busy parking area so that drivers will no longer be forced to back their vehicles out into oncoming traffic.
Additionally, an access lane on the westbound side of the road was added, along with a stop sign. Another stop sign was added at Cedar Lane, as well as two no-parking areas alongside each store, and a sign on Bay Avenue directing all traffic to the west and prohibiting left turns. The project was finished in July 2014.
Some residents have said they are unhappy with the redesign, though, as they claim it has caused more confusion rather than slowing down traffic and making it safer to park at the two stores, as was intended.
Marian DiSpigna, a resident of Bay Avenue for several decades, said that because no left turns can be made at the corner of her block anymore, she often has to take Elm Street, the adjacent road, when she wants to head to Sag Harbor, which she does often. She admitted that she does occasionally make a left turn from Bay Avenue, as do many others.
Ms. DiSpigna and others also said the design is particularly confusing at night, with people driving through the parking lot via the access lane at more than 30 mph, believing it is still Noyac Road.
“It’s a big cluster,” Ms. DiSpigna said. “I feel they just should’ve approached this slowly—widen the road, let’s see how that goes. But so much has gone into it.”
Linda Heine, who owns the Whalebone and said she was never a fan of the project from the start, said that motorists haven’t slowed down with the new traffic patterns, especially on the curve. Additionally, she said she finds turning out of the parking lot from the exit closer to Cromer’s troublesome, because the view of oncoming traffic is somewhat obstructed, while it can be seen better exiting closer to her own store.
Ms. Heine also suggested that more accidents have occurred since the redesign finished than in previous years. According to Southampton Town Police, six accidents yielding a total of two injuries have taken place between Cedar Lane and Oak Drive—the beginning of the new patterns to the end of the curve—since July 15, around the time the design went into effect.
Tom Neely, director of public transportation and traffic safety for Southampton Town, said that while he understands that not all residents are happy about the changes, he thinks people just need time to adjust.
“It’s been a few months for the design, and I think most engineers will tell you that changes in the road have to kind of settle in for a while,” Mr. Neely said, adding that he thought it was too soon to look at accident data.
The project cost approximately $500,000 and began in late May. Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor described it as “long overdue,” noting that he is satisfied with the way it turned out.
“They’re entitled to their opinion,” he said about residents’ concerns. “It was long overdue to do some improvements there, and we made it the best that we could do without taking away private property.
“I think it’s much better than what it was,” he added. “And that’s all I really have to say about it.”