I’m Tom Neely and I’m running for Southampton Town Highway Superintendent.
Many years ago, Dan Rattiner of Dan’s Papers wrote one of his memorable tongue in cheek articles about living on the east end. This article was about the increase in people and traffic on the east end. In Dan’s world of make believe, his alter ego, the King of the Hamptons issued an official edict which ordered everyone who moved here after 1987 to go back from where they came, so ‘The Hamptons’ did not get overcrowded.
This story was published in Dan’s Papers a week after we rode back together from NYC on the Jitney, discussing the ever-increasing traffic congestion and possible solutions. (I had told him 1987 was the year I moved here.)
Since then, our population has continued to grow and traffic on the South Fork has doubled.
The ramifications of this traffic growth include increased pollution due to congestion; increased use of local ‘backroads’; and an increase in traffic crashes (accidents).
The population growth has also resulted in more people walking and biking along our roads; and while the pandemic has changed travel patterns for now, more people also use public transportation. With little or no community interest in increasing our roadway capacity, improving local public transportation options has been a focus of our elected officials.
Supervisor Schneiderman and Councilman Schiavoni, with the support of the entire Town Board, have worked with other East End elected officials and the LIRR to implement the “South Fork Commuter Connection” rail and bus service.
This service provides a public transportation alternative to allow workers to get to and from work each day without relying on the use of a personal vehicle to commute. It is expected that this service will resume as the LIRR returns to pre pandemic levels of service.
County Legislator Fleming has also been instrumental in advocating for improved public transportation. Through her efforts, Suffolk County has funded development of a ‘microtransit’ transportation pilot project. This is intended to provide a more cost-effective service to low density, lower ridership areas such as ours, which are not well served by the Suffolk County Transit bus system.
In addition to improving public transportation, implementation of a “Complete Streets” approach to local roadways would benefit our local community. The goal of a Complete Streets program is to consider the needs of pedestrians and bikers (as well as vehicle)s in a coordinated planning approach to roadway improvements. (The concept now known as Complete Streets began years ago in the Midwest as the ‘Community Preservation Fund’, a mechanism to plan and fund bike lanes, sidewalks, and similar improvements.)
As with other aspects of the Town’s growth, how we manage the transportation network in our community going forward is vital to maintaining our quality of life.
Because no one listened to King Dan.