The Suffolk County Legislature voted Wednesday to appropriate $4 million to begin construction of the expanded Riverside traffic circle in 2017, and the county’s capital budget also now includes another $1 million toward that project.
Meanwhile, further east on Flanders Road, the state Department of Transportation has begun work on the traffic signal planned for the intersection of Flanders Road and Longneck Boulevard.
Ron Fisher, the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said he was told the work would be completed by Labor Day.
The DOT also plans to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Flanders Road and Oak Avenue. Both projects should begin this spring, the DOT said.
The traffic circle project calls for the one-lane circle to become a two-lane, egg-shaped “roundabout.” The difference is that a roundabout has different approach angles in order to slow down approaching traffic.
The $4 million had initially been budgeted for 2016, but was pushed back to 2018 in the county’s capital budget plan last year.
After local residents and officials showed up in force at county Legislature meetings last year to demand the project be funded, the legislature voted to restore the $4 million to the budget for 2016.
Gil Anderson, the commissioner of the County Department of Public Works, said Wednesday that the project is in the planning stages now and the $4 million will enable DPW to bid the project and begin construction in 2017.
An additional $1 million has been added to the capital budget for the project, he said.
“As we got into the design and the design was finalized, it become more clear that the cost would be higher than anticipated,” he said.
Mr. Anderson said the current traffic circle has issues with both safety and congestion. He said the fact that there are five roads coming into one circle makes the expansion difficult to plan.
“This is going to be a very difficult project to construct,” he said. “It’s going to be very intrusive, and a lot of it is going to be done at night.”
At one point, the DPW had advocated closing off one of the roads entering into the circle, County Road 104 (Riverleigh Avenue), but that plan was dropped after opposition from residents.