It has been more than a two-year wait, but residents of Bridgehampton can expect to see work begin on a variety of traffic safety measures along Montauk Highway, the hamlet’s Main Street, as soon as this spring.
Thomas Neely, Southampton Town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety, told the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday that he expected new street lights to be installed from the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center east to the Bridgehampton School as soon as June 30. Additional work, including the revamping of several pedestrian crosswalks, between Butter Lane and the Bridgehampton School, will be completed during the New York State Department of Transportation’s 2018 construction schedule, Mr. Neely said.
The town has been planning the traffic projects since early 2016 after it received promises of $700,000 in state aid for the work from Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle. Those grants were awarded a few months after the cookbook author and Loaves & Fishes owner Anna Pump was struck and killed by a pickup truck in October 2015, as she tried to cross Main Street.
The streetlight work is part of a broader townwide effort to replace all its streetlights with high-efficiency LED lights, but Mr. Neely said the Bridgehampton commercial corridor would be one of the first priorities. As part of the project, a number of street lights will be added to existing utility poles, especially in front of the shopping center. While there are now 19 streetlights between the shopping center and the school, there will be 37 when the project is finished, although town workers will install the fixtures on existing utility poles, he said. Although engineers had originally called for the poles to be mounted on 18-foot arms, after concerns were raised by the town board, their proposed length was reduced to 12 feet.
The traffic safety project will also call for several new pedestrian crosswalks, at the Bridgehampton Post Office, Thayer’s Hardware, The Hampton Library and in front of the Bridgehampton School. As part of that work, lighted pedestrian crossing signs and automatic sensors, which will be able to tell when a pedestrian wants to cross, will be installed. Curbs will be bumped out into the parking lane, which will prevent cars from parking next to the crosswalks and make pedestrians more visible.
The project also calls for the completion of a sidewalk along the south side of Main Street from the Bridgehampton Community House west to Hildreth Lane, and crosswalks will be improved at the Butter Lane/Halsey Lane intersection with Montauk Highway as well as at the other major intersections along Montauk Highway in the business district — at Corwith Avenue and School Street and at the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike and Ocean Road. The DOT is continuing to work on plans for the latter two intersections, Mr. Neely told the committee, and he said additional community input would be sought before final plans are adopted.
The Corwith Avenue/School Street corner, at the Candy Kitchen, is problematic because the intersection is not aligned, and adding signals or turning lanes might be tricky, Mr. Neely said. Similarly, the Ocean Road corner, where the DOT is considering adding crosswalks, is also problematic because the final design must work around the war monument in the intersection, he said.
The committee was joined by its two liaisons from the town board, Councilman Thomas J. Schiavoni and Councilwoman Christine Scalera, and ran through a laundry list of concerns with them.
Members said they were not happy with the Gotham Gym, which operates out of a cellar space in a building on the south side of Main Street. Specifically, they raised complaints about standalone signs the gym has placed in front of its building that say things like “Get off your ass and train” or “You are not going to get the ass you want by sitting on it.”
Carey Millard, a committee member, said the gym holds boxing lessons outdoors. “They are out on the street as much as they are in the facility,” she said. “It’s really a living nightmare.”
Ms. Scalera and Mr. Schiavoni said they would alert code enforcement officers about the situation.
The committee also expressed concerns about ongoing commercial development in Bridgehampton. They said with Farrell Building planning a new office next to its existing building and Saunders Real Estate eying plans to expand its own building, parking issues had to be addressed. Members also complained about the appearance of a new modular structure being built in front of Aryaman Builders. The committee had initially approved of the plans when the company aired them at a meeting two years later, but later had second thoughts about the project.
Pamela Harwood, the committee’s chairwoman, said the thought the town rubber-stamps too many projects. “The planning department tweaks things and if there are no objections, it gets approved,” she said.
Committee member Tom Watson said he felt the town Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals does not do enough to represent the concerns of the public. “You guys are supposed to be protecting us,” he said.
Ms. Scalera and Mr. Schiavoni said both those boards acted independently of the town board, and Ms. Harwood said it was up to community members to have their voices heard. “We need more people to go to public hearings,” she said. “We have to be citizens. That’s what democracy is.”