Still No Bridgehampton Crosswalk Lights

Money is there, but application has stalled
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is pushing Southampton Town to file an application for $700,000 for pedestrian and traffic safety improvements in Bridgheampton. At a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting Monday, Sybille van Kempen, at left, whose mother, Anna Pump, was killed crossing Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton in 2015, listened. Taylor K. Vecsey

A plan to improve traffic and pedestrian safety along Bridgehampton’s Main Street is moving ahead, albeit slowly.

It is almost 15 months since the chef and restaurant owner Anna Pump was killed crossing the street in the hamlet after exiting a Hampton Jitney bus. Six months later, state representatives secured $700,000 for crosswalk improvements and lighting enhancements in the Bridgehampton business district. It is up to the Town of Southampton, however, to implement the project.

While Main Street, part of Montauk Highway, is a state road, its lighting and sidewalks are the responsibility of the town, which must work with the state to get approval for the project and decide what it will look like. The town has had the preliminary application since June, according to Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who secured $500,000 for the improvements.

“As of now, and I checked again today, the Town of Southampton still hasn’t sent the application,” Mr. Thiele told the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday night. “We’re not much further along with this project than we were six or eight months ago.” He assured the committee, however, that the funding would not disappear.

Town officials told the advisory committee in August that it was a matching grant, but Mr. Thiele said that was not quite accurate: The town must first lay the money out and is then reimbursed by the state. The state funding is for construction only, Mr. Thiele noted; the town bears the cost of engineering consultants.

The assemblyman said that Bridgehampton’s application was not the only one the town has sat on for a while; there are three others in the town, he said, for which he has secured state funding. “I don’t know who is in charge of doing the grants in the town,” he said. “I suspect it was the same person in charge of the envelopes at the Oscars.”

Town officials were not at the meeting Monday night, but Mr. Thiele said they were aware of the situation. “The money is there. The town now is back on track with trying to move forward. Other than knowing they are working on it and that we kind of pushed them along, I don’t have a time frame for you because the ball is in their court,” he told the committee.

Sybille van Kempen, Ms. Pump’s daughter, listened quietly before speaking. “It seems like every day there should be a sense of urgency about this — all those people crossing,” she said. “I don’t see it.”

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‘I don’t know who is in charge of doing the grants in the town. I suspect it was the same person in charge of the envelopes at the Oscars.’

— Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

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Frank Zappone, Southampton’s deputy supervisor, offered an update by phone on Tuesday. Late last summer, he said, the town put out a request for proposals from certified traffic engineers who can analyze the vehicle, pedestrian, and parking needs along Main Street in Bridgehampton, and suggest safety improvements such as L.E.D. lighting or lighted crosswalks. The requests for proposals were returned in October.

Mr. Zappone said that Christine Fetten, director of municipal works, and Thomas Neely, the director of public transportation and traffic safety, will recommend a hire to the town board this morning. He expects the board to move on the recommendation no later than at its next meeting, March 14.

He agreed that the project was moving at what appears to be a slow pace, but said, “It is not due to a lack of effort.”

Town officials hope to have “some changes” that improve traffic safety in place by the summer of 2018, but Mr. Zappone said it depended on the engineers’ analysis.

One member of the committee suggested that Mr. Thiele pressure the town by not moving its agenda forward in the Assembly. Mr. Thiele replied, “I’m not going to punish the hamlet because the town is slow.”

“It’s easy to become annoyed, but it’s more practical to continue to apply the pressure,” said Nancy Walter-Yvertes, another member.

Pamela Harwood, the chairwoman, said the community could count on the advisory committee to continue to prod the town.