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Towns mull Peconic Bay Boulevard weight limit, pumpkin-picker bus


In an effort to ease North Fork traffic concerns, a weight-limit restriction could be coming to Peconic Bay Boulevard and a seasonal bus loop may be created to transport pumpkin pickers between Mattituck and Riverhead.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter discussed those ideas at Thursday’s work session and said his office plans to reach out to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell since Peconic Bay Boulevard runs through both towns.

Mr. Walter said in an interview Monday afternoon that the weight restriction is also needed because the road’s culverts can’t sustain heavy use by tractor trailers and commercial buses.

“If we don’t weight-limit Peconic Bay Boulevard to just local deliveries, we could have catastrophic road damage,” he said.

Vehicles weighing over eight tons, or 16,000 pounds, would be banned between Meetinghouse Creek Road and Laurel Lane — with the exception of local deliveries — according to the proposed legislation.

In October, the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association had sent a letter to Supervisor Sean Walter and Police Chief David Hegermiller to request banning limos and tour buses from using the road among other proposals.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said during the work session that she’s concerned Sound Avenue will ultimately gain more traffic if the proposal is approved.

In addition to Peconic Bay Boulevard, the proposal also includes implementing a weight-limit on Hubbard Avenue between Route 105 and Meetinghouse Creek Road, as well as to Meetinghouse Creek Road between Hubbard Avenue and Peconic Bay Boulevard.

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to vote on a resolution Tuesday to schedule a public hearing in April to further discuss the weight-limit plan.

Mr. Walter said he’s also in the preliminary stages of creating a plan to have the town recreation department’s 33-passenger bus pick up tourists at the Mattituck train station and loop into Riverhead to stop at local farms for pumpkin picking in the fall.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said in an email that while he hasn’t discussed Riverhead’s proposal for a weight limit with fellow Southold Town Board members, he believes it should be “seriously considered.”

In particular, Mr. Russell said the boulevard is turning into a bypass that drivers use in order to avoid traffic jams on Main Road.

“The temptation will still be strong to use the Southold side of the road,” he said. “This will push them onto the side streets running north and south as they head to and from the Main Road. Those side roads are even less suitable for heavy traffic.”

As for a pumpkin-picking bus loop, Mr. Russell described the idea as “intriguing,” but questioned if it will change people’s habits.

“They like driving to where they’re going,” he said. “Transferring to a shuttle may be a hard sell.”

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File photo credit: Times Review Media Group