Suffolk County is turning a corner.
A problematic intersection where Nicolls Road meets Route 25A is in the county’s crosshairs as officials seek ways to make it more pedestrian-friendly and safer for drivers. Three Village residents heard a presentation on the proposal last Monday evening, where elected officials and administrators outlined plans to install a new sidewalk on the northern side of the intersection.
“The county has been responsive to our concerns about pedestrian safety here,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-East Setauket). “Right now, the 25A-Nicolls Road intersection is sort of scary for pedestrians trying to make their way across. The aim here is to improve safety and I wanted to make sure the public was included.”
Gil Anderson, commissioner of the county’s Department of Public Works, pointed to a blueprint of the proposal, which would remove an access ramp for drivers making a right onto Nicolls Road from 25A, and instead make the access point to the major roadway in the same spot as motorists making a left onto it from 25A. The intent, he said, was to ease the flow onto Nicolls without impacting eastbound traffic along 25A.
“Our intent is to improve safety at this intersection,” he said. “The county will be putting in sidewalks to connect the existing sidewalks put in by the state.”
As it stands, there are two ways to access Nicolls Road from 25A. Drivers going east on the route make a right onto the road via the access ramp in question under the county proposal, while drivers going west on the route make a left off 25A at a traffic light where the two roadways meet.
Bill Hillman, chief engineer with the county Department of Public Works, called the intersection the “genesis of pedestrian safety issues and vehicular issues” for the Three Village area and said this proposal could solve a lot of those problems. He said eliminating the current access ramp for cars going east on 25A making a right onto Nicolls Road was the safest way to handle the situation, and the county would be exploring the possibility with the state’s permission, because state-owned 25A is the crux of the county’s traffic issues at this site.
Some residents asked about the possibility of bike lanes being included in the proposal, and Anderson said civic members and elected officials should reach out to the state, which maintains Route 25A, with hopes of breaking through.
“If the civic reached out to the state, now would be an opportune time,” he said. “Route 25A is a state jurisdiction when it comes to bike lanes. They’ll take your requests a lot more seriously than ours.”
Hahn said she also requesting planning money on the county level for a bike path down Nicolls Road and near Route 25A and hoped it gets considered for the betterment of Stony Brook University students who frequent the area either by bike or foot.
“I’m hoping that money stays in and gets implemented one day,” she said. “Many students utilize the sidewalk and this will improve safety, no doubt.”