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New York Department of Transportation

For six months, roadway barriers, shown above, have blocked the intersection of Arlington Avenue and State Route 25A. Photo by Jim Hastings.

Public officials are addressing an ongoing dispute between the Village of Port Jefferson and the New York State Department of Transportation involving a roadway obstruction at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and Route 25A on the long hill leading into Port Jeff.

Due to its steep slope, Arlington Avenue requires a specific grade to allow vehicles to safely traverse the intersection without bottoming out. Under the current design, instituted in September 2021 as part of DOT’s sidewalk initiative throughout the village, the roadway remains impassable.

Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for DOT Region 10, addressed the issue in an email statement: “The New York State Department of Transportation is working with the Village of Port Jefferson to address longstanding terrain issues at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and state Route 25A and hopes to reopen Arlington Avenue as expeditiously as possible.”

“Prior to them doing the work, there was no issue there.”

— Kathianne Snaden, deputy mayor of Port Jefferson Village

Joe Palumbo, Port Jeff village administrator, shared that the DOT has not yet put together a workable plan to resolve the matter.

“Their design there is not acceptable in terms of navigating the road from 25A onto Arlington,” he said. “The grade there is not sufficient for vehicles to go up and down that road.”

According to Palumbo, the grade issue remains the primary point of contention between the two parties.

“DOT is in the process of putting a design together,” he said. “Their most recent design that they had sent over to us is not acceptable. The village would prefer to have something that was similar to the grade that was there prior to the paving, or better.”

According to Palumbo, under DOT’s present plan, vehicles can still get stuck at the bottom of the slope. Kathianne Snaden, deputy mayor and commissioner of public safety, said there had been no problem with the grade before DOT’s changes.

“Prior to them doing the work, there was no issue there,” she said. “It is a steep hill, but cars could easily get up and down, emergency vehicles could get up and down, school buses could get up and down.”

Snaden objects to the addition of a sidewalk along the pavement. She said that by adding the sidewalk, DOT had created a grade that is different from that of the pavement. According to her, this presented a safety hazard requiring the intersection to be closed to traffic.

“They paved 25A and additionally, with the paving, they added a sidewalk,” she said. “The sidewalk, for some reason, they put straight across the roadway, which we’ve never seen before. In doing so, it changed the grade from a slant to more of an angle because the sidewalk, obviously, is low.”

Snaden said that the roadway closure, put in place by DOT six months ago, is a significant risk to public safety. “My concern, of course, is the safety of the residents,” she said. “We had a house fire on Arlington almost two years ago. The roadway was impassable, but that time it was because of a downed tree. When that house caught fire, they couldn’t get all of the firetrucks to that house.”

According to Snaden, as long as the intersection remains blocked, this scenario may repeat itself in the future.