Skip to main content

Welcome Bumps in the Road

Thu, 11/30/2023 - 08:49
The speed humps on Glover Street in Sag Harbor are about 15 feet long. They were paid for by nearby residents.
Christopher Gangemi

In the last year, speed bumps have appeared with increasing frequency across the East End, and if recent village board meetings in Sag Harbor and East Hampton are any indication, more are on the way. Residents in both villages, just this month, asked for bumps to be installed to slow traffic on their side streets. 

Traffic and speeding vehicles, long a problem on the main roads, have made their way onto the back roads. Whether pushed there by Covid population increases or by the rising popularity of apps like Waze, municipalities are left to deal with the consequences. 

“Zones that were small residential streets are turning into highways in the summer,” said Marcos Baladron, the East Hampton Village administrator. 

Enter speed bumps. 

When we talk about speed bumps, we could be talking about speed humps and speed tables as well, but there are differences. Speed bumps, to quote Pink Floyd, are a “short, sharp, shock,” and are technically illegal on public roads. You’ll find them in parking lots and on private roads only. Humps are medium length and relatively short. Speed tables are the longest in length, shortest in 

height, and considered the least disruptive. Usually however, in conversation, people refer to all three configurations as speed bumps. 

There were early adopters. Back in 2015, residents along Glover Street in Sag Harbor petitioned the village and paid for the installation of two humps. Previously property owners had funded speed monitors and clocked one driver going 80 miles per hour. “I raised money to build them from the folks on the street,” Susan Mead wrote in a text. “I think they cost about $20,000. I don’t live on Main and Glover now but trust me they work. Most cities in the world use them.” 

And on Tuthill Road, a private street in Montauk that runs past Duryea’s, bumps, so significant that if you drive over them at over five miles per hour, you might rupture your spleen, were installed long before that hamlet’s recent boom. 

“They feel that’s the answer to speeding,” said David Collins, superintendent of public works for East Hampton Village. In May, the village purchased three temporary rubber speed humps from Traffic Logix for $16,370. Mr. Collins is the rare soul who has had to install one. He didn’t relish the experience. Usually, they’re installed by asphalt and paving companies. 

“We put in removable ones thinking they would be removable,” he said. In July, the three humps were installed on Highway Behind the Pond. “The labor required to install allegedly temporary ones was two to three days per bump and we did it during the hottest part of the season.” He said it was too early to tell if they are a success. “We need to know how they react to snowplows.” 

“Highway Behind the Pond was so particular because of summer traffic to the beach,” said Mr. Baladron. “Lots of Uber drivers were hanging out at Wiborg and whipping around the curve when they left. The neighbors all got together and talked with the mayor about it. So, we did the pilot program. It really only affects the beachgoers in the summer and the immediate neighbors.” 

“Several neighborhoods want them,” he continued. “David’s Lane, Huntting Lane, Mill Hill, Church Street. The big problem is Waze. Every Uber driver uses Waze. When they encounter traffic, they are pushed into the side roads, and they turn neighborhoods into throughways.” 

Residents of LaForest Lane petitioned the village board at the last meeting to not only make their road one way but also to consider speed bumps. 

“I was driving through Naples and we’re going over these things on the side streets,” said Mayor Bill Tillotson of Sagaponack. “These were quiet neighborhoods you could comfortably bike through. I thought, why the hell don’t we have these things?” 

Soon after, Sagaponack Village had installed three speed tables near the school at the corner of Sagaponack Road and Sagg Main Street. The way some drivers see it, “stop signs are optional,” said Mr. Tillotson, “but you have to obey these things. I was looking to knock the average speed down. They seem to work, especially with the guys with trucks and landscape trailers.” He said speeding on the side roads was a main issue for the village. One man had been ticketed going 90 miles per hour on Parsonage Lane; another for doing 80 on Hedges. After a group of neighbors petitioned the village, a hump was installed on Sagg Road near Wolffer Estate. There are also speed humps on Hedges Lane. 

Mr. Tillotson said they cost approximately $14,000 each to install. “They are controversial,” he said. 

Controversial because they are an obstacle for ambulance and fire departments to deal with. Controversial because if a landscaping trailer rattles over one it can be noisy. Controversial if you own a low-clearance car like a Prius, or sports car. Controversial if your snowplow rams into one. 

“Personally, I don’t like them,” he said. “I like the 1950s and 1960s when I could ride a bicycle and there was never a worry. But traffic stops on Montauk Highway and navigation apps take people down all the side streets. Now at least people have to slow down a bit.” 

Mr. Tillotson said they placed the bumps near fields to address noise concerns. One is only 140 feet from his front door. “I get a fair amount of noise,” he said, but nonetheless, he’s happy with the result. “The average speed is dramatically lower on Sagg Road.” 

“If we have an emergency and need to get to a hospital in a hurry, going over speed bumps is not a good thing, especially with a patient in the back,” said Tom Gardella, the mayor of Sag Harbor. But he hasn’t had any complaints about the humps on Glover Street, and acknowledged residents are requesting them more, most recently on Suffolk Street. “If we are going to do this, if information comes back saying it’s not an issue for emergency responders, I’d consider them in residential areas where we could slow traffic and not impact the fire and E.M.S. people.” 

There are other options. Mr. Baladron said that East Hampton Village was exploring speed cameras as well. “You can’t just put speed humps everywhere.” Mr. Tillotson said the problem could have been solved 50 years ago, with the construction of Sunrise Highway as a bypass. “It would have been in the moraine when that land was undeveloped. Instead, it [Route 27] goes through the villages.” 


New Manager Takes Stock at Food Pantry

Noah Gualtieri may be new to the job of operations manager at the East Hampton Food Pantry, but he is hardly new to the work of the pantry.

Feb 22, 2024

East Hampton Village Board Turns Its Thoughts to the Spring

Basketball courts, the farmers market, the May Day 5K, and the Hamptons Whodunit festival were topics of interest at Friday's meeting of the East Hampton Village Board.

Feb 22, 2024

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Names New Chief Administrator

Emily Mastaler, coming from her previous role of president and chief executive officer of River Hospital in Alexandria Bay upstate, has "extensive healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise, and ability," the hospital said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Feb 22, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.