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Apr 28, 2010 9:10 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County approves $1.6 million for Flanders roundabout

Apr 28, 2010 9:10 AM

The intersection of Suffolk County roads 31 and 104 in Flanders is not a safe one, according to some officials, so the Suffolk County Legislature this week approved plans to install a roundabout there to help reduce the risk of accidents.

The legislature agreed to issue a $1.6 million bond to fund the construction of the roundabout and the county is expected to move ahead with the bidding process soon. Construction will likely start in the spring of 2011 and should take six to eight months to complete.

The resolution authorizing the bond quietly made it out of the Public Works and Transportation Committee last week, without many questions asked or opposition raised, said Suffolk Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk, who is chairman of the committee.

Motorists often speed on County Road 104, otherwise known as Quogue-Riverhead Road, and some don’t use their blinkers to warn that they’re merging on to County Road 31, or Old Riverhead Road, which runs south to Westhampton Beach. There’s only a stop sign to manage traffic, so drivers mostly have to crane their necks to check for oncoming traffic before turning from one road to the other.

“Isn’t it scary, or what?” said Brad Bender, the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association and a driver who frequently passes through the crossroads. “I never know which way someone is going to come.”

The number of accidents at the intersection—there were 34 accidents with 16 injuries reported between October 2005 and last month—prompted Suffolk County officials to explore installing a roundabout there. Roundabouts tend to be safer, according to Bill Hillman, the chief engineer of highways, structures and waterways for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works. He explained last week that three-point intersections have between 20 and 24 spots where an accident can occur. But roundabouts, which also tend to slow traffic down, have only eight, significantly reducing the potential for accidents, he said.

Andrew Hintze, the chief of the Flanders/Northampton Volunteer Ambulance and 13-year veteran of the volunteer outfit, said that there have been fewer collisions at the crossroads over the years, but when there is an accident, it usually involves high-speed and T-bone collisions.

“More often than not, it’s a serious accident,” he said.

County officials started thinking about installing a roundabout at the intersection about two years ago, said Dan Aug, spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy, who introduced the resolution to approve the bond.

“We believe that the installation of a roundabout will enhance traffic safety and capacity of the roadway,” Mr. Aug said.

But Mr. Hintze was a little more skeptical, saying that he’s not sure if a roundabout would be beneficial since motorists are used to speeding on County Road 104.

“It’s not uncommon to see people travelling at 55, 60, 70 miles per hour,” he said.

A roundabout is better than the current configuration, and a better option than a traffic light, Mr. Hintze said. But time will tell if it has the desired effect, he said.

“It’s hard to say if it’s going to be an improvement or a change,” he added.

Mr. Bender is a little more hopeful.

“I’m all for the traffic circle,” he said. “It’s better than what we have now, which is a stop sign and a whole lot of accidents.”

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1.6 million dollars is way too much, and six months is way too long, to complete a roundabout; even though it is a good idea.
By Old School (22), Southampton on May 4, 10 10:40 AM
Why don't they just put some fake deer near the side of road at the intersection. That will slow them down.
By darwin (47), southampton on May 4, 10 4:21 PM