Historically, the New York State Department of Transportation has not been a model for managing construction projects in this region. When it comes to traffic and transportation, it has been assumed that South Fork municipalities best understand the unique ebb and flow of traffic that defines the area. In the case of recent roadwork by the Southampton Town, however, that assumption has proven wrong. Changes being undertaken in front of Cromer’s Market on Noyac Road, covering about 100 yards of road length, have made it clear that nothing about the state’s successful Route 27 project was taken into account.
Here is what was learned this spring as the state successfully resurfaced Montauk Highway from County Road 39 to Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton: Major road projects should be completed off-season and certainly before Memorial Day; such work should take place after 10 a.m. and before 3 p.m. if necessary during daylight, but preferably at night, and that one side of the road should be paved or nearly completed before the other side or shoulder is torn up.
The volume of traffic during high season here is such that all other routes east and west, including the back roads used as alternates, are clotted with cars. And like it or not, Noyac Road has become a popular option. So it was surprising that, on a recent morning at the height of rush hour, eastbound traffic was backed up past Trout Pond as drivers waited for about 30 minutes for a flagman to allow vehicles through on a single lane as work went on.
If Southampton’s Highway Department cared about residents, businesses, and the region’s air quality (surely compromised by the exhaust of scores of standing vehicles all day), it would make every effort not to add to the burden of traffic as people try to get to work, provide goods and services, run errands, or even breathe during the busiest time of the year. It should look to the state for guidance, as odd as that may seem.
Southampton’s approach to the community does not bode well for its plan to rebuild an aging bridge over Sagg Pond. With the way it has treated morning commuters in Noyac as an example, we can only watch with increasing concern.