Find Funds for Traffic Study

The Southampton Town Board is closing in on a much-anticipated pedestrian and traffic safety analysis of Bridgehampton’s Main Street. During a work session last Thursday, the board discussed how best to fund a study, and while the town comptroller was not able to find money from the source some board members would have preferred, funding has been identified.

State grants, totaling $700,000, were awarded to the town for lighting and crosswalk improvements along state-owned Montauk Highway over the summer. The town needs to provide the money up front, however, as the grant is a reimbursable one and does not cover initial planning and engineering design work.

In October, the town asked for a request for proposals for traffic safety engineers to look at 1.35 miles along Montauk Highway, from Lake Road to Lockwood Avenue, come up with safety recommendations, and consider how the back roads north and south of the highway would be affected by a traffic-calming project, Christine Fetten, the director of municipal works, told the board.

Work would be split into two phases. First, engineers would review accident volume data, attend community meetings, make recommendations, and provide options for improving safety at specific locations, followed by the second phase of implementing town-chosen recommendations, Ms. Fetten said.

The town received five different proposals. The lowest bidder was L.K. McLean Associates of Brookhaven. The firm has a long history of working with the town, including on the Bridgehampton hamlet study in 2004 and the reconfiguration of the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in 2008. The price was $38,500 for the first phase and $21,600 for the first in-depth design in the second phase, plus $13,000 for each additional design.

While the amount was higher than Supervisor Jay Schneiderman anticipated — he said internal discussions had put the initial figure at about $20,000 — it is money the town has to spend, he said, and the rest of the board agreed that a resolution hiring McLean Associates for the work would be forthcoming.

“To spend $40,000 to get $700,000 — that’s a pretty good deal for us,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

The supervisor then turned to Leonard Marchese, the town comptroller, to find the money for the project, particularly the initial costs; the rest could be dealt with in next year’s budget, he said.

Mr. Marchese first suggested that McLean Associates be paid from the town’s surplus. Mr. Schneiderman and Councilwoman Christine Scalera both said they would rather that amount be pulled from lines in the 2017 budget, but, reached by phone on Monday, Mr. Marchese said he was not able to find any money in the budgeted lines and would be putting together a resolution for the board that would fund the study from the Department of Land Management’s surplus. The Finance Department has projected a $2.75 million surplus for that account by the end of the year.

The town board did express a concern that it would be funding design plans for a road in the state highway system. “I’m afraid we’re going to end up spending $40,000, and the state’s going to say, ‘Nah, we don’t want to do any of that stuff,’ ” Mr. Schneiderman said. He would like to get an idea of what the State Department of Transportation may or may not agree to, he said.

Ms. Fetten said coordinating with the state is important, but getting answers has been frustrating. “We were very hopeful that by this time we would have had the state’s pedestrian-safety report that we’ve been discussing in some of those past meetings, but we have not,” she said. “It’s been a little bit trying, but we’re hoping with the assistance of a design professional we can come up with a realistic set of goals.”