Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s three-year capital budget proposal, which was rolled out last week, could soon bring some welcome relief for Westhampton Beach motorists.
Mr. Bellone’s $410.3 million 2015-17 Capital Budget and Program sets aside $450,000 to widen the intersection of Old Riverhead Road and Montauk Highway in the village, a problematic crossing that is also the unofficial gateway to downtown Westhampton Beach. Though they are not yet finalized, the plans would most likely call for the installation of a new turning lane for those heading south on Old Riverhead Road with the intent of turning west onto Montauk Highway. Work could potentially begin next year.
But before the project can go forward the county and village will need to acquire land on both sides of the Old Riverhead Road, which is also known as County Road 31. Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller suggested Monday that some of the land could be acquired through eminent domain. The property on the east side now houses a Valero gas station while the remnants of a former gas station sits on the opposite side of the road.
Mr. Teller said the village has been working with county officials for about eight years, urging them to widen the road so large trucks heading to and coming from Sunrise Highway can complete their turns more easily. Mr. Teller said Monday that he was never formally made aware of the county’s plan.
“[The county has] always been accommodating, so it’s a project that we well approve of,” he added.
Pam Robinson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bellone, wrote in an email that the county is still working with the village and Southampton Town to acquire the land necessary to upgrade the intersection.
Mr. Bellone’s spending proposal, which still must go through a round of review and amendment before the Suffolk County Legislature, does not specify an exact start date for the work next year, though it does call for the construction to wrap up by fall 2015.