As New York State begins the second phase of work repaving Flanders Road later this month, Suffolk County could be planning to delay its work on the Riverside traffic circle, where traffic en route from the South Fork on Flanders Road often forms a severe bottleneck.
The repaving work had initially been slated to begin May 14 but the start date was pushed back at the last minute to May 27.
The county had planned to do the traffic circle work in 2016, but due to lack of manpower, has pushed back the work to 2018, says State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.
Mr. Thiele said in a press release Monday that he and State Senator Ken LaValle had received a letter from the County Department of Public Works on April 10 stating that “construction funds have been requested for the 2016 Capital Program….we will make every effort to begin construction…..in 2016,” but the county’s capital budget, released in late April, contains no funds for the traffic circle until 2018.
South Fork County Legislator Jay Schneiderman’s legislative aide, Jason Hann, said that the funding was moved to 2018 by County Executive Steve Bellone.
“Legislator Schneiderman is on the legislature’s capital budget working group and will fight to put this funding back in to 2016 or 2017 the latest,” he said. “This is a major priority for the legislator and he will fight for the support of his colleagues in the county legislature moving forward.”
Mr. Thiele had harsh words for the delay.
“The Riverside Traffic Circle is a critical part of the revitalization of the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton community,” he said. “It is incomprehensible that Suffolk County could renege on its commitment to the residents of that area. They have waited long enough for action.”
Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle had been instrumental in obtaining state approval for a public referendum allowing an exchange of parkland on the northwest corner of the traffic circle to make way for the road improvements. That referendum was passed by Southampton voters with 74 percent of the vote last November.
“The state and town took expedited action at the request of the county. The county legislature needs to redeem the reputation of the county and include this project for construction in the 2016 county capital budget,” said Mr. Thiele. “The county broke a promise once before with the schedule for the Hampton Bays Main Street project. It can’t happen again. The East End is not the county’s step-child. This is why people continue to ask me about Peconic County.”
Meanwhile, the state repaving project on Flanders Road is slated to resume May 27. State contractors paved from Birch Avenue in Flanders to Old Riverhead Road in Hampton Bays last fall, and are expected to pave northward from Birch Avenue to the Riverside traffic circle over the next two months.
The work, which will be done between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, will be accomplished using lane shifts along short sections of Flanders Road, with “occasional single lane closures,” according to Mr. Thiele. Construction is expected to move from south to north and will begin on the southbound side of the road.
Rosemar Construction Corporation of East Moriches will be doing the work on the $5.2 million project.
For 24-hour up-to-date traffic and travel information, motorists can call 511 or visit www.511NY.org. Travel information is also available from the INFORM Transportation Management Center cameras at www.INFORMNY.com.