Due to consistent resident complaints, Suffolk County is planning to start work on easing traffic concerns on the northern part of Nicolls Road sometime by the end of the year. The planning has been several years in the making.
A recurrent issue for travelers on Nicolls Road has been drivers weaving quickly to the left lane when coming from eastbound Route 25A to make a left onto Lower Sheep Pasture Road.
William Hillman, Suffolk County Department of Public Works chief engineer, attended the Feb. 3 Three Village Civic Association meeting to discuss changes planned for the county road.
“It’s a relatively simple project,” he said. “Vehicles traveling eastbound to go south on Nicolls Road — many of them weave across to make the left on Lower Sheep Pasture Road. Simultaneously, someone who has made a left from 25A, quite often there’s conflicts there. We’re looking to eliminate that.”
He said the slip ramp on Route 25A approaching Nicolls will be removed, bringing a right-turn lane up to the signal. The only time the right-turn lane will stop is when the left-turn lane on the westbound side has the green arrow.
“About 80 percent of the cycle is green for this movement, so it’s only 20 percent that it would be stopped,” Hillman said. “From a capacity standpoint, it will have very little effect.”
The chief engineer said while Route 25A is a state highway, the county received a permit to remove the access ramp due to it causing problems on the county road.
Daniel Dresch, assistant chief engineer, said the lane will be about 450 feet long. When asked if a study was done regarding traffic on Route 25A, he said it wasn’t undertaken due to it being a state road, and instead the county focused on remedying the problems on Nicolls.
“It’s well outside of the scope of what we can do,” Dresch said.
However, the county has conducted a study of the area at Nicolls Road, Hillman said. During the morning peak hour, between 8 and 9 a.m., about 600 cars make the right from 25A. In the same hour, approximately 130 vehicles then make a left onto Lower Sheep Pasture Road.
Civic members asked what may happen to pedestrian crossings.
Hillman said the changes will improve pedestrian safety due to the county eliminating the slip ramp. Suffolk will also construct sidewalks from the north entrance of Stony Brook University up to 25A on the west side of Nicolls and a sidewalk on the east side as well.
Members also questioned Hillman and Dresch about bicyclists. Hillman believes the removal of the slip will help cyclists heading eastbound on 25A due to not having the conflict with drivers making a right before the light.
Those in attendance also used the opportunity to ask about possible plantings in the median, and if the civic association could help. Hillman said while community members can’t legally work on medians and islands, which are considered part of the road, members can sponsor landscaping work on the spaces.