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Recommendation for Sound Avenue: Prohibit on-street parking

The consultants overseeing Riverhead Town’s comprehensive plan updates made their first recommendations to the Town Board last Thursday. 

Ray DiBiase, the president of L.K. McLean Associates in Brookhaven, which is handling the transportation and infrastructure component of the update, gave a brief rundown of some of the recommendations they are making to the town. 

One recommendation calls for prohibiting on-street parking for the entirety of Sound Avenue.

The consultant also recommended the town undertake a corridor study for Sound Avenue and other scenic and historic roadways in the town.  

Jefferson Murphree, the town building and planning administrator, said the Town Board actually had a hearing on a similar proposal on banning parking on Sound Avenue in August 2019, but never adopted it. 

“The proposal was not met with opposition,” he said. “There were certainly questions, but no opposition.”

In terms of safety issues, Mr. DiBiase said the town has crash records from the state Department of Transportation. 

“There’s a considerable amount of crash records,” he said. “I think we went back five years.” He stated they are looking for some key points where there might have been some crash history, so measures could be developed to mitigate crashes. Mr. DiBlase added they are getting similar records from town police. 

“A major improvement in Riverhead will be the realignment of Edwards Avenue and Route 25,” Mr. DiBiase said. “You’re probably familiar with it because the traffic backs up at Route 25 at that intersection. There’s no left turn lanes.”

He said the DOT is installing left turn lanes at all four of the intersections. 

The work should be done in 2024, Mr. DiBlase said. 

Meanwhile, the Suffolk Department of Public Works is re-timing traffic signals on several roads, including Route 58, Mr. DiBiase said. 

“They will be looking at the coordination of the signals, so if you’re on Route 58 and traffic is not that heavy, you should be able to go three or four signals without stopping.” DiBiase said.

“Route 58 is one of several roads where this is being done,” Mr. DiBiase said. “That job won’t begin for about a year.” 

Additional changes are proposed to Sound Avenue, which was declared a Historic and Scenic Corridor in 1975.

LKMA is recommending a five-foot bike lane on both sides of the road, with 11-foot travel lanes in each direction and an 11-foot two-way left turn at “appropriate” locations. 

This proposal would have a 43-foot wide roadway, whereas Sound Avenue’s existing right of way is 66 feet.

Mr. DiBiase said concerns about Sound Avenue have been raised during all of the hamlet meetings. “There’s a strong desire to preserve the rural feeling,” he said. 

The 2003 comprehensive plan update recommends measures to preserve scenic corridors, but few of those measures have been adopted by the Town. 

Among the intersections at which safety and capacity improvements are proposed: State Road 25 and County Road 105; Sound Avenue and Edwards Avenue; Route 25A and Wading River-Manorville Road; and the intersection of State Road 25, Peconic Avenue and Roanoke Avenue in downtown Riverhead. 

Mr. DiBiase said the study also encourages a “transportation mode shift” in transportation. 

“We want to encourage people not to drive in single-occupant cars and to maybe use bus transit or car pools or pedestrian bike traffic,” he said.

Town Board members expressed some concerns that improvements to the roads will lead to more people driving on them. 

“If you build it, they will come,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said. 

Mr. Murphree said that adding just two feet to the road should “make it a safer environment.”