The “island” on which the Bridgehampton war monument stands at the intersection of Ocean Road and Montauk Highway will be enlarged as a traffic-calming measure this fall as part of the pedestrian safety plan for downtown Bridgehampton that is almost ready for implementation after more than two years of discussion and planning.
Incorporating 11 new crosswalks, some with bumped-out curbs, warning lights for motorists and motion sensors to detect pedestrians, as well as upgrades to five existing crosswalks, the long-evolving plan also calls for making the blinking light at the intersection of Montauk Highway and Corwith Avenue fully functional.
The plan also includes enlarging sidewalks and adding them in three locations where they currently do not exist, including one across the monument island itself. It will allow for easier pedestrian access to the monument and a connection to a planned crosswalk to the island from the opposite corner at Almond’s restaurant on the west and to one on the east leading across Ocean Road to the town-owned Nathaniel Rogers House, according to town officials.
While many elements of the plan have been discussed at several public meetings since 2016, the expansion of the monument island — in part to sharpen corners and constrict nearby driving surfaces — came as news Monday evening, when Southampton Town Engineer Christine Fenton and Director of Public Transportation and Traffic Safety Tom Neely updated the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on the pedestrian safety project.
CAC members registered no opposition to the news nor did they object to the revelation that the New York State Department of Transportation wants to remove eight trees that an arborist has determined are not healthy and that are either constricting sidewalks or in the way of planned sidewalks.
Explaining that the trees have “holes and bubbling-up roots” that are lifting sidewalks, Mr. Fenton urged CAC members to “keep your minds open” about the need to remove them. She and Mr. Neely said the state DOT has been working with Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on the sidewalk and tree-removal plans.
Mr. Neely told CAC members that the project, which the town initiated in 2016 after state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle secured $700,000 in state funding for it, has dovetailed with the state’s own efforts to improve pedestrian safety across the state and bring sidewalks and crosswalks into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, the state is incorporating the town’s goals into its own plans for downtown Bridgehampton. That means the town will have money left over to look at other pedestrian-safety hotspots.
The death of local chef and business owner Anna Pump, who was struck and killed in 2015 while trying to cross Montauk Highway on foot at the post office, prompted the push for pedestrian safety improvements in the hamlet’s downtown.
Mr. Neely reported to the CAC that the town has completed a separate project to upgrade existing streetlights in downtown Bridgehampton to brighter LED fixtures and added 19 more LED lights to existing poles. One additional pole will be added to illuminate the intersection of Ocean Road and Montauk Highway, to the east of the monument island near the Nathaniel Rogers House. Some of the original $700,000 grant helped pay for the lighting upgrade, which was part of a town-wide program to replace streetlights across the town with LEDs, according to Mr. Neely.
Ms. Fenton showed slides Monday evening prepared by the DOT that illustrated the proposed crosswalk and sidewalk work. There also were photos taken by Mr. Neely of the trees the DOT wants to see removed. He said there are 95 trees along Montauk Highway between Snake Hollow Road and the Bridgehampton School.
Ms. Fenton urged CAC members to work together to develop a list of trees the committee would prefer to see planted to replace those removed. She and CAC members noted that trees that do not send shallow roots under sidewalks and will not grow into overhead utility lines would be preferred.
In response to a question from Alejandro Saralegui, Ms. Fenton said a number of trees removed from the edge of the sidewalk between Corwith Avenue and the post office late last year by the Highway Department had nothing to do with the state’s sidewalk program. Mr. Neely said it was his understanding that the sidewalk there will be repaired by the state.