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Town Board considers moving county bus stop to alleviate congestion

The Riverhead Town Board is considering moving the county bus stop on Railroad Avenue farther west, in an effort to alleviate the congestion caused by buses picking up and dropping people off in front of the train station. 

“This is just a beginning of a conversation,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said. “For the past several years, it was part of the Town Board’s desire to move the bus stop away from the train station and that was worked on several years ago, but it was not able.

She said she has been talking with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about the proposed changes, since the parking spaces belong to the MTA. 

A new plan drawn up by assistant town engineer Ernesto Rosini would move the bus stop from its current location in front of the vacant train station to the west end of Railroad Avenue on the north side. There would be two bus stops built there.

The 16 existing perpendicular parking spaces there would be eliminated to make room for the bus stops, which would no longer be stopping in traffic. There also would be two new bus shelters built in this location. 

The parking spaces on the south part of Railroad Avenue would be replaced with head-in diagonal parking. 

The cost estimate for the project would be $25,916, according to Mr. Rosini.

“So, we’re paying for the upgrade of the MTA park?” Councilman Jim Wooten asked.

“No decision has been made yet,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. 

She added the town will also seek financial assistance from Suffolk County, which runs the bus system. 

The train station on Railroad Avenue has been vacant since 1972 and efforts to get a tenant there have been unsuccessful, even when the space was offered for free. 

“This gets people away from congregating in that area too,” Mr. Wooten said, adding that this might help find a use for the building if there aren’t as many people there. 

Board members for the most part supported the idea when it was presented at Thursday’s work session. 

“We need to put attention into the train station area,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “It’s an area of concern and it’s also key to our downtown revitalization.

She said “the goal of any revitalization is to use alternative means of transportation and to use trains and buses and do more walking.”

Councilman Tim Hubbard said he likes the concept but want to know where the funding will come from. 

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio wanted to know what the ultimate expectation of the project is.

“Do we expect more trains will come, or more buses? Will people visit the train station more and travel by bus? What are the expectations of the expenditure?”

Ms. Jens-Smith said the main expectation is safety.

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