The Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association has been methodically going over the dizzying number of options that are available to fix the intersection at the big curve in the Main Road at the intersection with Love Lane and Old Sound Avenue.
MLCA member John Carter presented what the group believes is the most feasible and effective option for the intersection to the Southold Town Board at their April 19 work session.
A big part of the danger at the curve is that drivers heading westbound on the Main Road who intend to go straight onto Old Sound Avenue at the curve don’t have to stop before they reach the intersection, and are often confused about whether to use their turn signal, which would imply that they are turning onto Love Lane, a dangerous situation for drivers on Love Lane who aren’t sure which direction the oncoming car is turning.
The fix proposed by MLCA would include making a raised island with a sloped curb, roughly in the shape of a triangle with a curved hypotenuse, in the center of the Main Road at the intersection. Traffic heading westbound to go straight on Old Sound Avenue or turn right onto Love Lane would travel to the right of the traffic island and stop at a stop sign before they get to Love Lane, while traffic continuing on the Main Road would travel on the left side of the island.
They propose that traffic turning right from Love Lane onto the Main Road have either a stop or a yield sign, while — and Mr. Carter acknowledged this is a controversial part of the proposal — cars would not be able to turn left onto the Main Road from Love Lane.
MLCA also suggests putting in well-marked pedestrian crosswalks across both Old Sound Avenue and Love Lane, and putting diagonal parking on the south side of Old Sound Avenue, which is a wide one-way street.
“The crosswalks give drivers the message that they are in shared space and should respect the rights of pedestrians,” said Mr. Carter. “Sidewalks and crosswalks would have very positive effect in the neighborhood.”
The plan also calls for a new sidewalk on the south side of the Main Road from New Suffolk Avenue all the way to Reeve Avenue, next to the Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church.
“We want to make that a clean, safe walk,” said Mr. Carter. He also suggested the that intersections of both Wickham Avenue and New Suffolk Avenue with the Main Road have substantial pedestrian crosswalks, with pedestrian-activated flashing lights.
The next step, said Mr. Carter, would be to do a traffic study so that traffic engineers could weigh in on the feasibility and safety of the proposal.
“Whatever we came up with had to be doable, affordable and immediate, and increase safety and reduce risk,” said Mr. Carter, who added that the median that would be placed in the Main Road would have the same footprint as the traffic markings already there today.
“There are no changes to traffic flow on Main Road,” he said, adding that the plan is designed to discourage pedestrians from attempting to cross the Main Road in the middle of the curve.
“It’s just not conducive to safe and confident crossing by pedestrians,” he said.
MLCA also looked at two other, far more intensive options — Plan B includes traffic lights and Plan C involves both traffic lights and the straightening of the curve, which would require condemnation of private property.
The full proposal is available on MLCA’s website here.
Town Engineer Jamie Richter reminded MLCA members that the first thing the town needs to do is get the State Department of Transportation involved, since the Main Road is a state road.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell recommended that the town put together a request for proposals from traffic engineering firms, with an eye toward hiring a firm that has a good relationship with the state.
Councilwoman Jill Doherty questioned where people would turn around if they couldn’t make a left hand turn from Love Lane to the Main Road.
“It could cause more problems,” she said.
Mr. Russell suggested the town let the traffic engineer evaluate those issues.
Councilman Bill Ruland suggested that the town get the police involved in working to calm traffic at that intersection immediately.
“It’s a resource that we have now,” he said. “We don’t have a big enough Band Aid for this problem. If it’s to be, we’ll only get one chance to engineer it.”