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East End towns hoping for regional traffic relief

The latest effort to improve transportation on the East End by easing traffic congestion took a small step forward Tuesday.

The Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved a home rule resolution necessary for the New York State Legislature to establish a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council.

Similar resolutions have been or will be passed by leaders in the other four East End towns.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and assemblymen Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) have introduced bills meant to establish the council, which would be charged with developing plans for an East End shuttle service to relieve highway congestion.

The legislation is aimed at establishing a framework for and providing resources to foster cooperation among the five East End towns and state and federal agencies.

It’s hardly the first effort to improve public transportation in a region that’s overwhelmed with traffic and has roads that can’t sustain the volume.

“Expanding traffic congestion has resulted in deteriorating traffic safety with increased traffic accidents and fatalities,” according to the proposed bills. “The unique geography of the Peconic Bay region limits the ability to expand highway capacity [and] the narrow forks limit the augmentation of future highway capacity in an east-west direction.”
Building on various studies of problems that have worsened year by year since, the council would be charged with moving forward the development of an East End shuttle, which at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded was “both viable and desirable.”