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Traffic Circle Nixed at Busy East Hampton Intersection

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 17:36

Mayor says changes would have been ‘insane’

A traffic oval at the intersection of Route 114 and Main Street would have drastically changed the look of an iconic area in East Hampton Village.
Carissa Katz

A New York State Department of Transportation plan to install a traffic circle or stop lights at the intersection of Route 114 and Main Street/Route 27 in East Hampton Village has been halted.

Stephen Canzoneri, a spokesman for the D.O.T., said in a statement this week that the department had “considered the intersection of State Routes 27 and 114 at Dunemere Lane in the Village of East Hampton for potential improvements, but after discussions with village officials and a review of recent traffic data, it was determined that a reconstruction of the intersection was not warranted.”

The state had provided the village with four options: two different traffic circle designs and two designs which would have added six traffic lights to the intersection. At the East Hampton Village Board meeting on Friday, Mayor Jerry Larsen labeled some of the designs “insane.”

“We would have lost a portion of the bioswale, parking in front of the library, and Route 27 would have been directly in front of Guild Hall,” he said, referring to one plan for a traffic oval that would

have resulted in the loss of 31 parking spaces and five trees.

The D.O.T. first began looking into a redesign of the intersection years ago due to the high number of accidents there, but after the village blocked traffic from entering Route 27 from Dunemere Lane, the number of accidents decreased sufficiently for the department to reconsider.

The D.O.T. is forced to act if accident reports on a stretch of road reach a certain threshold. However, it declined to define that threshold this week, or to provide accident data for the intersection before press time.

The village blocked off the short piece of road allowing access from Dunemere Lane to Route 27 on a seasonal basis starting in 2014 and permanently in 2016.

While Mayor Larsen was highly critical of the traffic oval mentioned above, on the upside, it would have included a crosswalk to connect Guild Hall to the East Hampton Library, something that both institutions have long desired to create a safe crossway for their patrons. A bike lane would have ringed the circumference of the oval.

Marcos Baladron, the village administrator, said in an email that the D.O.T. has resisted several attempts by the village to place a walkway between Guild Hall and the library.

“It could only happen with the circle,” he said.

Those looking to travel east from Route 114 would have been led around a long oval that would have enclosed the flagpole, and the currently blocked-off stub of road that connects Dunemere Lane to Route 27 and Route 114. The oval would have had a grassy center surrounded by brick. Immediately to its west, another pedestrian walkway would have connected the north side of Route 27 to the south side, through the green space which contains the bioswale.

Mayor Larsen considered the D.O.T.’s decision not to pursue a traffic circle at the intersection it a “big win,” and said, “It’s really good news for the village. It would have destroyed the historic area and the look of things as people entered the village.”

Drivers have long made their own, makeshift, traffic circle when they reach the end of Route 114 by making a right on Route 27, a left on Mill Road, and another left on James Lane to connect with eastbound Route 27. However, doing so has led to an increase in the number of accidents at the intersection of Mill Road and Route 27.

To reduce those accidents, on Friday the board voted unanimously to make Mill Road one way, moving from James Lane to Route 27.

“We did receive some comments from people who thought this was a bad idea, but we had police do accident research in the area that showed there are accidents at Mill Road now because people stop to make that turn,” said Mayor Larsen.

He emphasized that if making Mill Road one way leads to problems elsewhere, namely because of people being forced to make left turns from Route 114 onto Route 27, then the village would simply reverse course.

The D.O.T. will keep watching as well.

“The safety of the traveling public is N.Y.S.D.O.T.’s top priority and we will continue to monitor conditions at this intersection,” said Mr. Canzoneri.

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