By Brandon B. QuinnUPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: A spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Department of Transportation has updated the situation, saying “it was a temporary malfunction.” She had no information about the lights being placed into flash mode purposefully.
Sgt. Michael Burns of the Southampton Town Police said that after discussion with a contingent of officers stationed at Sebonack Golf Club to alleviate traffic, it seems the light was not set to flash mode on purpose.
Sgt. Burns characterized the situation as miscommunication, as he was told the light was set this way on purpose upon reporting for duty in the morning.
Original Story:With recent heightened traffic due to the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Shinnecock Hills, the traffic lights at the intersection of County Road 39 and David Whites Lane in Southampton were purposefully, and temporarily, put into “flash mode” in an attempt to help the flow of cars traveling eastbound—a measure that had many motorists concerned for their safety. Following numerous complaints, the lights were returned to normal late Friday morning.
The lights, which were flashing yellow in both directions on County Road 39 and flashing red in both directions on David Whites Lane, were originally scheduled to remain that way until the completion of the golf tournament, according to Southampton Town Police.
Sgt. Michael Burns said no accidents were reported at the intersection, despite the complaints of some residents that the flashing light was causing dangerous traffic patterns, including having to cross three lanes of moving cars in order to cross into the village. The sound of not-so-sporadic honking was common Friday morning at the intersection.
“Some people don’t really know what to do with it when they see it, but as a whole it’s keeping traffic flowing eastbound,” Sgt. Burns said while the lights were still in flash mode.
The light was supposed to get reset to its normal working order at night when the day of golf ended, then be placed into flash mode in the morning over the weekend, according to Sgt. Burns. But those plans were scrapped after communication between the town and Suffolk County, with county officials saying they wanted to keep traffic patterns as normal as possible. An county worker was seen changing the light back to its normal pattern at 11:20 a.m. on Friday.
In terms of traffic as a whole, the past few days, Sgt. Burns said, “I know traffic is worse than normal for this time of year, almost like a heavy summer holiday weekend. It has routinely been backed up to the Hampton Bays Exit 24, but we have a lot of officers out there trying to get traffic moving, starting at about 5 or 6 a.m.”
Despite the back-ups and aggravation, Sgt. Burns said that incidents of road rage were being reported “no more than normal.”