Downtown Riverhead has an opportunity to redevelop its transportation network in a more sustainable fashion, including improved pedestrian access and a bicycle sharing plan that could change the way people travel downtown.
The town received a $567,000 grant from New York State in 2011 through the Brownfield Opportunity Area grant program, and this spring hired planners Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, community planning non-profit Sustainable Long Island, and architects and designers Hawkins, Webb and Jaeger to prepare a study of a 452-acrea area of downtown that includes 18 vacant sites. Those sites are not technically “brownfields,” which have underlying environmental contamination, but are areas that the public may perceive as brownfields because they have been vacant for so long.
The area to be studied follows West Main Street east from River Road, including all of downtown, and eastward on East Main Street, ending near Hubbard Avenue.
The project will begin with a counting of cars that currently use the roads, but it will expand to explore different modes of transportation, reconfiguring lanes, improving the timing of traffic signals and widening of intersections to provide turn lanes, said the consultants at a recent presentation to the Riverhead Town Board.
They will then look at connections between different modes of transportation, in an effort to help synch up existing transportation to make it easier for people to use the public transportation network.
Tying into the public transit plan, the bike and pedestrian plan will focus on a potential bike sharing program, like the one recently instituted in New York City. It will also analyze the possibility of a continuous walkway along the Peconic River. Currently, public access along the river stops at the Long Island Aquarium.
A riverside walkway could dovetail nicely with Southampton Town’s plan underway to build a pedestrian bridge across the Peconic River from county-owned land on the south side of the river to the boardwalk south of Riverhead’s Main Street.
Transportation is just the first component of the study, which will look at redevelopment of downtown as a whole. The planners are launching a website, goriverhead.com, which will have more details as the study continues.
Sustainable Long Island is looking for public input on the project, and is asking people who are interested to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their names, email addresses and phone numbers in order to receive updates. More information on the project is available here.