Motorists driving along Stony Brook Road are currently witnessing what happens when the state and town work together.
In July, work began toward the north end of the corridor between Oxhead Road and Development Drive, in the vicinity of Stony Brook University. In 2016 state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million grant from the New York State Dormitory Authority through its State and Municipal Facilities Capital Program to fund a traffic safety improvement project on the road. An additional $75,000 was acquired by state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) through the state multimodal program, and Town of Brookhaven Highway Supervisor Dan Losquadro (R) said the town has contributed an approximate additional $815,000, for a total of about $1.9 million.
“The project involves several components that are going to enhance safety for not only drivers, but also, just as importantly, for pedestrians with the university,” Losquadro said.
Most notable to drivers and pedestrians are the sidewalks being added between Oxhead Road and SBU’s Research and Development Park. There will be drainage improvements, according to Losquadro, as well as retaining walls at spots where there are significant grade changes with the sidewalks, in order for the walkways to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
Losquadro said based on talks with university officials, community members and traffic studies conducted by the town, there was a need to improve vehicular flow at the Oxhead Road intersection and the school’s South Drive intersection. The highway superintendent said there will be a new signal and turning lane into Oxhead Road so cars can cue up at the light and not impede the flow of northbound and southbound traffic. The project will also entail a larger turning lane into South Drive which will have dedicated turning arrows, meaning those making a left turn from Stony Brook Road will not have to worry about oncoming traffic turning in front of them.
“It will move many more cars out of that southbound queue, so traffic can flow much more freely southbound,” Losquadro said.
There will also be a new traffic signal at the Research and Development Park. At the end of the project, which is estimated to be the middle of October, the road will be resurfaced between Oxhead and the R&D park, and new decorative lights that will match ones used on the south end of the corridor will be installed.
The highway superintendent said in addressing both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the project also takes into consideration both current and future needs, especially with future development at the R&D park.
“In speaking with the university, we want to plan for the future,” Losquadro said. “We want to future proof this. We want to make sure that even if the volume between the university and R&D park is lower now, as far as walkers, one of the reasons for that may be there is no safe way for those people to walk.”
The highway superintendent said he hopes the changes will encourage more people to use non-vehicular transit, meaning less traffic.
SBU spokesperson Lauren Sheprow said the university is grateful to all involved.
“The campus community at Stony Brook University is exceptionally grateful to have these new roadway improvements that will make it safer for those walking and biking near campus,” Sheprow said. “It would not have been possible without $1M in state Senate funding secured by Senator Flanagan and nearly the same amount by Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. We are also grateful to Assemblyman Steve Englebright who provided funding that enhanced the project’s beauty and added safety through the addition of LED decorative street lights.”
Losquadro said there is a long-term plan for the corridor including hopes to work on the southern portion of the corridor near Route 347 in the near future, but a timeline for that project depends if money is included in the upcoming capital budgets.