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The Mast-Head: Peril of the Left Turn

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 18:33

No one was injured in the two car accidents that happened in front of the Star office on Tuesday. Police only briefly closed Main Street while the second of the crashes was cleared.

I had been upstairs in the main newsroom working with our August interns when we heard several loud thumps above the usual background noise from outside. Traffic has been constant this summer, with more heavy trucks than I can recall, nearly around the clock. Late at night the tractor-trailers loaded with boulders head east to Montauk Point, then back west again once empty. Cement mixers rumble past, going to innumerable construction sites. Septic waste trucks roll west. Semis filled with groceries come east. Once in a while, though, there is a pause in the noise, when I look up from whatever I am doing, startled by the sudden quiet.

The Tuesday car accidents were caused, as best we could tell, the same way: The drivers on the James Lane merge attempted U-turns instead of going straight. There is a triangle planted with flowers separating the Guild Hall side of the street and ours, and, coming to its sharp north end, some people break what is arguably the most important rule of the road on the South Fork: Never make a left from a side street into traffic.

It has seemed to me that banning lefts, at least during the summer, would do away with a lot of problems, like the one at the nearby Buell Lane intersection. Lately there has been a rash of misplaced courtesy there in which drivers stop suddenly southbound on Main to wave someone trying to make the left across — not thinking about the truck bearing down on them on their rear bumpers, or whether the northbound drivers opposite them are in on the plan. I have gotten used to the air horns as truckers have to slam on the brakes.

Now and then we can make a left out of the Star driveway, but these days, even going right is a challenge. But, yeah, let’s build more houses and condos and restaurants and the Pantigo medical center, and, by all means, that beer garden up on Toilsome Lane, right? There is always room for traffic to get worse.

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