Study: One-way Peconic Avenue could mend downtown traffic woes

10/31/2013 3:40 PM |
TIM GANNON PHOTO | A traffic study stated that Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead should be one way.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A traffic study stated that Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead should be one way.

Peconic Avenue should be a one-way road heading north into downtown Riverhead.

That’s a recommendation of a traffic study for downtown Riverhead that was done as part of the $567,000 Brownfield Opportunities Area grant from the state Department of State.

The study was discussed at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.

The intersections of Route 25 (Main Street) with Roanoke Avenue and Peconic Avenue is the worst intersection in the study area, according to consultant Charles Voorhis of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, the planning firm handling the study.

“The majority of the other spots are working pretty well,” he said at the work session.

The study area stretches from Tanger Outlets in the east to Hubbard Avenue in the west, and runs along Route 25. The traffic analysis shows that the traffic flow rating in the middle of downtown is an “F” for cars turning west onto Main Street from Peconic Avenue, as well as for cars turning south from Main Street onto Peconic Avenue, Mr. Voorhis told the Town Board.

Traffic heading west on Route 25 — either heading straight or turning north onto Roanoke Avenue — also received an “F” rating, as did traffic flowing east along Route 25 (eastbound traffic heading east and turning left, or north, onto Roanoke Avenue got a “B” grade.)

The proposed solution, which Town Board members seemed to agree with, would be to make Peconic Avenue a one-way, two-lane road with traffic only heading north onto Main Street.

The consultants also recommend two eastbound lanes on West Main Street heading into the Peconic Avenue and Roanoke Avenue intersection,  and two westbound lanes from Roanoke Avenue to Griffing Avenue.

Vehicles heading south on Roanoke Avenue would be allowed to make right turns-only onto Route 25, as is currently the case, and motorists intent on leaving town would be instead directed to Court Street, where cars could then take the small bridge over the Peconic River to Nugent Drive in Southampton Town.

The study recommends reducing the size of the concrete island at this intersection to better align court street with the bridge. It also recommends making Court Street two lanes heading south between Osborn Avenue and West Main Street. The bridge would continue to accommodate two-way traffic, with the third lane designated for northbound traffic.

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“This is a pretty common sense approach and seems to work,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

The current southbound lane on Peconic Avenue would become an emergency vehicle lane, so those vehicles could continue to use the road to head south, consultant Kathryn Eiseman said at the work session.

The BOA study is guided by a steering committee made up of Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill, Tanger Outlets general manager Janine Nebons, Long Island Aquarium general manager Bryan DeLuca, Dark Horse restaurant owner Dee Muma and Dennis McDermott, the owner of The Riverhead Project restaurant.

The County Department of Public Works is also planning changes to the Riverside traffic circle in neighboring Southampton Town, and has discussed making that a two-lane roundabout.

In order to make Peconic Lane a one-way road, the plan would require approval from state and county agencies, as Peconic Lane is a county road and Route 25 is owned by New York State.

“We will need to follow up and coordinate with the board, because you’re going to want to approach [the state] as soon as possible if that’s the scenario that you want to pursue,” Mr. Voorhis said.

Meanwnile, Southampton Town has also received a BOA grant as well, just last week, good for $236,000 in state funding to study Riverside.

A survey about downtown Riverhead was recently conducted by the Riverhead BOA study, and more than 700 responses were received, Ms. Voorhis said. He added that the recommendation for a one-way Peconic Lane is one area they would like to get public feedback on.

Additional information on the Riverhead BOA study can be found on Sustainable Long Island’s website, at http://sustainableli.org/.

That group is also working on the study.

Think a two-lane, one-way Peconic Lane would help traffic flow downtown? Let us know in the comments.