Surprise: Traffic Experiment Worked

Rarely, it seems, does an experiment involving South Fork roads produce changes for the better, but this is the case with a trial just ended in Water Mill, which temporarily eliminated a stoplight at Montauk Highway and Station Road and, instead, set it to blinking while the U.S. Open was underway at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Anecdotally, the test appears to have been a smashing success.

A staggering increase in traffic over the past decade is at the root of problems for drivers trying to squeeze through the hamlet, especially eastbound from County Road 39. The average number of vehicular trips daily in the area soared from about 29,000 in 2005 to more than 40,000 in 2016, according to the New York State Department of Transportation. At peak times, such as during the morning and evening “trade parade” and on weekends, the number might be far greater.

While the blinking-light experiment was underway, trips that might have taken an hour fell in some cases to 20 minutes. This was a very big deal for commuters and tradespeople, giving them back precious minutes over the course of the week at the busiest time of year. State transportation officials were to have collected traffic flow data during the Open. Many drivers hope the data will show that eliminating the stoplight and possibly making the Station Road intersection right-turn-only should be permanent.