No Favor Found For Roundabout

A three-month problem, ‘we shouldn’t rush’
Buell Lane and Main Street in East Hampton Village Larry LaVigne II

    “You’d better wear a bulletproof vest after you leave here,” Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village administrator, said to Drew Bennett, a consulting engineer, who presented three potentially controversial solutions for the tricky Main Street and Buell Lane intersection at a meeting of the village board on Friday.
    The proposals are for permanently blocking vehicles entering the intersection from Dunemere Lane, seeking state approval for traffic lights, or building a roundabout centered on the Village Green flagpole.
    The intersection is the location of frequent motor vehicle accidents. In one notable recent collision, a hit-and-run driver struck a van, which, in turn, damaged the flagpole’s base.
    “What we have is a heavy traffic demand on a weak infrastructure,” Mr. Bennett said. “These ideas aren’t particularly innovative; they’re ideas that people have discussed for the past 10 years or so.”
    “It’s good that a dialogue is beginning to occur,” he said.
    The first idea Mr. Bennett presented would close off the connection between Main Street and Dunemere Lane — the option to which the board responded most favorably on Friday. He said that this was “grand scale” version of what village police did this summer when officers placed orange cones there, preventing drivers from entering the intersection.
    “Although this option would most likely make the intersection safer,” Mr. Bennett said, “it diverts traffic to roads perpendicular to Route 27, such as James and Pondview Lanes.”
    The board agreed with Mr. Bennett’s view that the forced diversion would have unforeseen consequences on other streets, and could lead to “intersection improvement” at James Lane and Ocean Avenue to handle increased traffic flow.
    The second option would be for traffic signals at the intersection, which would result in vehicles idling in front of the green, library, and Guild Hall, according to a written assessment Mr. Bennett completed for the village in June.
    None of the board members expressed support for this, and Mr. Bennett also seemed to lack enthusiasm for the alternative. “The village comprehensive plan limits the amount of lights that can be erected,” he said. “Moreover, this is a significant change that could wind up increasing traffic.”
    Neither did the board seem impressed with the third alternative, which involved a “high-capacity roundabout centered around the flag pole.” Mr. Bennett said that there is “not enough existing land area to implement this alternative.” Additional land would have to come from the green, the East Hampton Library, and possibly a private home, and “would result in a very negative impact to the village,” according to Mr. Bennett.
    Village Trustee Bruce Siska said, “If the roundabout doesn’t fit, cross it off the list.”
    Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. called upon Andrew Right, who was sitting in the audience to offer his views. Mr. Right said that he is glad that the village seeks to improve a dangerous situation.
    “Perhaps it would be best to try options on a temporary basis,” he said. “The village can place moveable planters at the intersection to see how it works.”
    Mayor Rickenbach said, “We’ve corresponded with the state to come out to look at the situation, and they have yet to do so.”
    “I like the idea of a seasonal solution,” Village Trustee Barbara Borsack said. “It’s a three-month problem, and we shouldn’t rush into a plan that we have to live with for 12 months. Let’s take our time and think this through.”