The west end of Route 58 will likely get a new traffic signal soon.
The developer of the Hilton Garden Inn and the recently opened Marriott Residence Inn has proposed a new traffic signal at the west end of the property shared by those hotels.
“The board should know why we’re doing this,” developer Lee Browning told Riverhead’s Planning Board last Thursday. “The accident that happened with those four girls who were killed out east, we potentially have that every weekend when the limos come to pick up the brides. We all know about the illegal U-turn.”
Mr. Browning was referring to a 2015 accident in Cutchogue where four young women were killed when their limo driver tried to make a U-turn on Route 48 and was hit by another vehicle. (The U-turn was not illegal at the time.)
Currently, traffic leaving the Route 58 hotels can only go west; there’s a guardrail to prevent cars from going east. To travel east, vehicles traveling east must head west first and make a U-turn near Splish Splash.
“The guard rail and the corresponding right-in, right-out driveway are inconvenient to visitors coming from the west, who need to travel east and then make a U-turn, and then for those leaving the site wishing to go east, where they have to travel west and make a U-turn,” town planner Karin Gluth said.
Mr. Browning received approval of a two-phased site plan for both hotels in 2006, using the transfer of 36.23 farmland development rights in order to build more than zoning permitted.
Ms. Gluth said the county Department of Public Works, which has jurisdiction over Route 58, said a “protected” left turn signal for traffic heading east into the hotel parking lot is not needed, although the DPW will evaluate that issue further once the light is operational.
A section of the guard rail will need to be removed to install the traffic signal, which is considered an amendment to the site plan for the hotels.
Planning Board members said they want to visit the site before taking action on the request.
Photo caption: The developer of the Marriott Residence Inn and Hilton Garden Inn on Route 58 is hoping to get a traffic signal placed at the site’s entrance/exit. (Tim Gannon photo)