Tags Posts tagged with "New York State Department of Transportation"

New York State Department of Transportation

The Eastern box turtle, above, is a native species to Long Island. Photo by 37and7 from Wikimedia Commons

Through the years, there have been scattered reports of the Eastern box turtle, a native species to Long Island, seen along the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail, particularly at a 1/8-mile strip adjacent to the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site.

Though not listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation considers the box turtle of “special concern,” a classification for native species that “warrants attention and consideration but current information, collected by the department, does not justify listing these species as either endangered or threatened.”

The New York State Department of Transportation, charged with mowing the Greenway three times per year, was alerted to the turtle presence earlier this summer by the Three Village Community Trust, the local organization supervising and stewarding the trail.

“We became aware that there were some turtles apparently in the area in and around the Lawrence Aviation site,” said Herb Mones, TVCT president. “As a result, we requested that the state, when it does its mowing program, not mow that section or that area.”

The Friends of the Greenway is a subsidiary of TVCT that works to maintain and upkeep the trail grounds. Charlie McAteer, the organization’s chair, held that the mowing operation does fulfill a public end, limiting tall grasses, which can often yield ticks.

“If the tall grass is right next to the paving, people worry about ticks as they go past,” McAteer said in an email. “So these few mowings do help with our human satisfaction.”

But, he added that the organization strives to keep “mowing to a minimum so meadow growth and places for turtles [and other wildlife] can flourish again and trail users can see and enjoy nature along the trail.”

Joshua Heller, public information specialist for NYSDOT, indicated that the department was made aware of the presence of turtles and halted mowing for the area in question. 

“The New York State Department of Transportation prides itself on being good stewards of the environment,” Heller said in a statement. “We have received the Three Village Community Trust’s letter and are reviewing it. In the meantime, we have temporarily halted mowing operations in this area.”

Aug. 22 walkthrough

A walk along the Greenway Tuesday, Aug. 22, painted a different picture.

Outside the Lawrence Aviation property, there was evidence of fresh mowing. However, there was no evidence of harm to wildlife observed during the walkthrough. 

Presented the photos of the recent mowing activities, Mones expressed possible miscommunication. 

“It’s unfortunate that the NYSDOT extended their mowing beyond the area we recommended to them,” the TVCT president said in an email. “In the past, the DOT has been responsive to our requests and recommendations. It’s obvious we’ll need to do more work to create a ‘protective zone’ in the future.”

NYSDOT did respond to a follow-up request for comment on the matter by clarifying that the recent mowing occurred prior to temporarily halting mowing in the area.

Possible solutions

A 2017 thesis paper by Margarete Walden explores the danger mowing activities pose to box turtles. 

To mitigate the potential risk of turtle mortality due to mowing, Walden suggests conducting “mowing activities [from] November to March, so as to coincide with the period of turtle hibernation,” during which they live underground. It is, however, difficult to mow during these months when there is heavy snowfall.

McAteer pledged that the Friends of the Greenway “will work with NYSDOT to try to work on the mowing distance/guidelines” for routine mowings.

For Mones, wildlife conservation and trail maintenance are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he indicated that both efforts could serve the coinciding interests of trail users and wildlife.

“Our motto is, ‘Protecting the places we love,’” Mones said. “We are the stewards of the Greenway, but we also have the residual responsibility to protect the open space and advance environmental protection.”

The new state program will use photo enforcement technologies to monitor speeding in work-zones. Following a 30-day grace period, violators will receive a fine by mail. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

New York State has introduced its Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program. 

The system clocks vehicles traveling above the speed limit in specified work zones. A registered owner of a vehicle will be ticketed by mail if the posted work-zone speed limit is exceeded by more than 10 miles per hour, according to the legislation signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in September, 2021.

The law states that the “owner of a vehicle shall be liable for a penalty” when that “vehicle was traveling at a speed of more than 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit in effect within such highway construction or maintenance work area, and such violation is evidenced by information obtained from a photo speed violation monitoring system.”

The ny.gov website indicates that this new program will be “located in construction or maintenance zones on New York State controlled access highways and parkways.” It also indicates that signs leading up to the enforcement areas will make it clear that a driver is entering one.

In a phone interview, Stephen Canzoneri, a spokesman for Region 10 of the state Department of Transportation, said that there will be “two signs posted in advance of the camera.” He added that these cameras are “only being placed in active work zones where there are boots on the ground.”

During the first 30 days of the program —which began Monday, April 17, according to Canzoneri — New York State will issue warnings by mail instead of actual fines. After this initial warning period, drivers violating the posted work-zone speed limits in the enforcement areas will receive a $50 fine by mail.

For a second violation, a violator will receive $75 fine, so long as this violation is within an 18-month period of the first violation. Any third or subsequent violations will result in a $100 fine if, once again, these are within 18 months of the first violation.

The website also states that “there will be 30 work-zone speed units … that will be moved around to work zones throughout the state.” To see an up-to-date listing of where the speed cameras are currently being utilized, go to www.ny.gov/work-zone-safety-awareness/automated-work-zone-speed-enforcement-program and scroll down to “Locations” on the left-hand side. The cameras are “being placed on the limited access highways, such as the Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, a portion of Sunrise [Highway] in central Suffolk,” Canzoneri said.

The ny.gov website clarifies that drivers will not receive points on their licenses for violations in these zones and that these penalties are strictly “civil in nature, with no criminal implications.”

In 2021, there were 378 “work-zone intrusions” and that more than 50 of these intrusions resulted in injury for either a highway worker or a vehicle occupant. “A work-zone intrusion is defined as an incident where a motor vehicle has entered a portion of the roadway that is closed due to construction or maintenance activity,” the ny.gov website states.

“We are seeing an increase in work-zone intrusions throughout the Island,” Canzoneri said. “More people are back on the roads after the COVID shutdowns. And traffic patterns are returning to what they were. And unfortunately, it means that there’s more danger for our workers on the road.”

In a phone interview, Jaime Franchi, Long Island Contractors’ Association director of communications and government relations, said, “Anything that is a deterrent that makes people pause while they’re driving in a zone where our highway workers are vulnerable is something that we would absolutely advocate for.”

Franchi added that LICA has been advocating for highway safety for many years, particularly on winding stretches of the Southern State Parkway. “They deserve to get home to their families,” Franchi said about highway workers.

Canzoneri agreed. “We want everybody to go home at the end of the day to be with their families,” he said.

The ny.gov website indicates that this five-year program is a joint effort by the state Department of Transportation and the state Thruway Authority.

Pixabay photo

In the wrong township

Regarding the April 6 article, “Brookhaven officials speak out against governor’s proposed housing plan” — also an op-ed — on potential development which is, according to Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine [R], “exempt from environmental concerns … don’t have sewers … no height restrictions … and local zoning is ignored.” 

Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico [R-Manorville] in his April 6 op-ed provides four examples that lend themselves to this type of development, and rattles off Port Jefferson Station, North Bellport, East Patchogue and Mastic Beach. 

Yes, we can read between your lines. And no, Dan. If you want development that is exempt from environmental concerns and without sewers, you are in the wrong township.

Joan Nickeson

Terryville

Roadway changes at 112 and 347 a mistake

The intersection of routes 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station is a total disgrace.

The change to the intersection was a total waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. It solved nothing. Now all the traffic is backed up at the light to ShopRite, instead.

In order to get to 112 coming from the east, one must make three turns instead of simply turning left. It is the most confusing and frustrating roadway change, and for what?

The whole project really should be looked at from the point of view of public safety. Once you make a turn from the new way, it is unclear where to actually go. Has the New York State Department of Transportation even driven there since it ruined the intersection?

Yes, I am angry. I’ve been here since there was a traffic circle, and that would have been better reinstalled than the horrific mess that is there now.

Jean Jackson

East Setauket

National Minority Health Month

April is National Minority Health Month, and we are urging that people of all skin tones protect themselves against skin cancer. Despite the common misconception that people of color cannot get skin cancer, it does affect people of all skin tones. Harmful ultraviolet rays can penetrate all skin types, regardless of your ethnicity, so even for people with dark skin, sun protection is necessary every day.

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma rates have risen by 20% among Hispanics in the past two decades. The annual incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is currently 1 in 167 for Hispanics and 1 in 1,000 for African Americans —compared to 1 in 38 for white people. 

Although people of color are diagnosed with skin cancer at lower rates than Caucasians, prognoses are typically poorer and survival rates are lower. Black patients with melanoma have an estimated five-year survival rate of 71 percent, versus 93 percent for white patients.

You can reduce your skin cancer risk by practicing sun safe strategies when outdoors. Applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, UV protective sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing, and seeking shade whenever possible, can help prevent skin cancer.

The Cancer Prevention in Action program at Stony Brook Cancer Center works to increase awareness about the dangers of UV radiation and promote sun safety to reduce skin cancer rates on Long Island. To learn more about Cancer Prevention in Action, visit the website takeactionagainstcancer.com or contact us at 631-444-4263 or email [email protected].

This program is supported with funds from Health Research Inc. and New York State.

Annalea Trask

Program Coordinator,

Cancer Prevention In Action

Stony Brook Cancer Center

Opportunities squandered

Everyone deserves to live in safe, affordable housing. We are facing a housing crisis on Long Island. State and local governments must use their power to address this problem in a thoughtful and equitable way that benefits all of us.

Unfortunately, the response from too many Long Island elected officials to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s [D] “housing compact” fails to address the issue for the public good. In his perspective piece March 30, Dan Panico [R-Manorville], Town of Brookhaven deputy supervisor and current town supervisor candidate, accuses the governor of threatening “local municipalities” and her push to increase housing availability as a “political charade.” 

While I do not agree with all aspects of Hochul’s plan, I recognize that she is speaking to a need that local governments have failed to address. One example of this would be the development of the Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club senior complex in South Setauket, which is a project that Mr. Panico voted for in 2014. This project was approved despite the opposition of the community. It has not generated any affordable housing, with monthly apartment leases priced from $2,900 per month. What we desperately need in our communities is affordable housing for both young professionals and retirees, and this was an opportunity squandered.

Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich [D-Stony Brook] has also weighed in about local control, saying that “town council members are uniquely qualified to know and be accountable to the needs of our districts” in an April 6 TBR News Media op-ed.

However, the Brookhaven Town Board isn’t listening to constituents. This past week, the Town Board unanimously sent a statement in support of New York State legislation to alienate protected parkland to facilitate the siting of a waste transfer station not allowed by local zoning, in an environmental justice area and disadvantaged community. They did this over the objections of nearby communities of color and the state NAACP. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve seen this kind of action. In 2021, the Town Board unanimously voted to rezone 130 acres of land surrounding the Brookhaven landfill from residential to light industry, again over the objections of residents. That is not how representation should work.

This year, our local government is up for election at all levels. Too many politicians have placed their self-interest and personal ambition over the voices of those they are elected to represent. 

We saw this in our town redistricting process last summer, where the Town Board unanimously approved the redistricting maps that residents spoke in opposition to at numerous public hearings. 

There is too much at stake, from affordable housing to environmental protection to the democratic process itself, to allow the status quo to continue unchecked. We deserve better, and we must demand it from our elected officials.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Wind power presents significant problems

According to a March 23 TBR News Media article, Sunrise Wind will soon be providing us with a wind farm which will contribute to New York state deriving 100% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2040. Presumably this implies that the contribution of energy provided by all hydrocarbon fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, will be eliminated entirely. 

While this may sound like a noble and virtuous goal, it does present a number of very significant problems, none of which were addressed in the aforementioned article. The production and distribution of electrical power began in the 1880s, as a direct result of the invention of the incandescent light bulb by Thomas Edison. Since that time, it has been generated by a combination of hydrocarbon fuels, supplemented by hydroelectric sources and, more recently, by nuclear reactors. 

All of these power sources share a common characteristic: They reliably provide huge amounts of energy satisfying all of our needs, 100% of the time, day and night, in all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, year in and year out. 

If we choose to arbitrarily eliminate the vast energy contributions of hydrocarbon fuels, and if we also follow the advice of letter writer Arnold Wishnia and his friends and eliminate our nuclear power plants as well, we will thereby create a new problem. If our virtuous green power sources are only active with a very limited duty cycle, certainly much less than 50% of the time, what will provide our energy when the wind is not blowing, and the sun is not shining? Clearly, we will need some form of energy storage system, in which we will produce and store energy when it is available, i.e., when the wind blows and/or the sun shines, and recover this stored energy during the off times. 

But what form will this energy storage system take? Can it be a huge collection of lithium-ion batteries? Can we perform electrolysis of sea water to produce hydrogen, which we can store in huge tanks? Can we pump vast amounts of water into huge towers, and then use it to power hydroelectric turbines? What shall we do?

We are told in the article that the windmills to be provided by Sunrise Wind will provide enough power for about 600,000 homes. However, we are not told whether this includes only the power delivered directly to the homes when the wind is blowing, or whether it includes the extra power that must be stored, such as in a battery, to power the homes when the wind is absent.

If Sunrise Wind, or Mr. Wishnia or anyone else, can describe an energy storage system that is compatible with achieving 100% elimination of hydrocarbon fuels and nuclear power generators in New York state by 2040, at an even remotely achievable cost, it would be most interesting and enlightening.

In my humble opinion, I believe that windmills and solar arrays can be useful supplements. We see this, for example, with a homeowner who installs solar panels on a roof, or a farmer who uses a windmill to pump water from a well. But to rely on these sources 100% of the time, for a venue the size of New York state, is, as they say, a horse of a different color.

George Altemose                                                      

Setauket

Ira Costell, above, president-elect of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. Photo by Daniel Febrizio

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association conducted its monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 28. Out of the about 40 people in attendance, there were only 20 members eligible to vote in the night’s elections for civic officers.

Elections

The election for president of PJSTCA was between Ira Costell and Christine Allen. Each nominee had an opportunity to speak for three minutes before questions opened up to the floor.

In his speech, Costell explained that he has a master’s degree in city and regional planning. “I have a background with planning and development issues, which face our community right now,” he said. “We’re under an enormous amount of pressure from a number of the development activities that are going on, from the Staller project [at Jefferson Plaza] to the post office to a number of PRCs that have been proposed.” 

Costell added that drug prevention remains an area of concern, as he lost a nephew to drug use and has spent years going to Albany working to remedy the ongoing drug epidemic.

In Allen’s speech, she explained that while she is not a politician, she would speak to anyone about anything in service to the community. 

“I’m not partisan,” she said. “I lean in the direction of truth and honesty.” Allen has also been a homeowner in Port Jefferson Station for 17 years, and she has three children in high school. 

“I’ve worked with the town and the state numerous, numerous times over the past 22 years,” she said, adding, “I’m down to do the work, to follow the rules, to pay attention and to listen to everybody’s concerns and questions. And I’m willing to learn.”

When a member asked what the candidates would do to reach out to the community to increase civic participation, Allen noted that social media is a great way to raise awareness. She added that she has experience in this area, since she runs a local community page. 

Costell suggested that running a forum or a clinic could be a good way to get the word out. He also agreed with Allen that increasing social media presence would be beneficial for the civic association.

For the position of vice president, Carolyn Sagliocca ran unopposed. In her speech, she mentioned that she went through the Comsewogue School District and has been a homeowner in Port Jefferson Station for more than 30 years. One of her primary focuses is public safety.

“I’ve been sending letters to the New York State [Department of Transportation] to let them know about our dangerous intersections at Terryville Road on 347 and also on Woodhull Avenue,” she said. 

She’s been actively working on a beautification project at the back of the HomeGoods shopping center, where bushes have been planted and a new sidewalk has been constructed. “We need the revitalization here,” she said. “I look forward to working with you and for you. This is your association — it’s not mine. What you want is what we do.”

Following the speeches and questions from the members, the voting took place. The final tally for president was 16-4 in favor of Costell. The uncontested Sagliocca was automatically elected as vice president. The new officers will be sworn in during next month’s meeting.

Reports and announcements

Comsewogue High School student Max reviewed several events that occurred this past month, including a popcorn fundraiser to raise money for the prom, a college fair, an international night that included cultural performances and international foods, the Comsewogue band performing in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and a volleyball tournament in which the students triumphed over the teachers.

Suffolk County COPE officer John Efstathiou gave a report on the recent crime statistics in the precinct. In total, there were 35 criminal incidents in March, down from 39 in February. Total noncriminal incidents dropped from 553 to 542.

He warned that there were six catalytic converter thefts this month and that members of the community should park their vehicles in their driveways whenever possible, although that isn’t a foolproof solution to the problem. “They’re getting under the vehicle however it’s positioned,” he said. 

Lee Brett, Terryville Fire District commissioner, explained that the parking lot as well as the cesspools are being renovated at the Terryville firehouse. He said he is optimistic this project will be completed soon.

Additionally, he announced that Washington Memorial Park in Mount Sinai is going to be renamed Gerard Reggio Park. Reggio was a serviceman from Port Jefferson Station killed in Vietnam, in 1969. A celebration for the name change will be held at a later date.

Dates for future events

Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct will hold its next community meeting Tuesday, April 11, at 10 a.m. at 400 Middle Country Road in Selden.

Comsewogue Public Library will be holding a budget vote and trustee election at the library from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. Visit www.cplib.org/budget-vote to get more information.

Next month’s civic meeting will take place April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Comsewogue Public Library.

Photos by Raymond Janis

After a roadway closure spanning nine months, construction resumed last week at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and State Route 25A.

The construction project signals progress and a cooling of tensions between the Village of Port Jefferson and the New York State Department of Transportation. The initial roadway obstruction was created in September 2021 as part of the DOT’s sidewalk initiative along 25A. Under the original design, a sidewalk was added through the intersection along the pavement and changes were made to the grade, causing vehicles to get stuck at the bottom of the slope.

Seeing this as a public safety hazard, village officials closed down the intersection to traffic, igniting an intergovernmental dispute between the village and DOT.

Recently, travelers along the 25A corridor noticed significant digging, uprooting of pavement and movement of dirt. Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for DOT Region 10, detailed the progress of the reconstruction efforts.

“The New York State Department of Transportation is working to address longstanding terrain issues at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and State Route 25A in the Village of Port Jefferson and expects work to be completed by the end of the summer,” he said in an emailed statement.

Responding to the ongoing construction, Joe Palumbo, the village administrator, offered thanks to DOT and to state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) for expediting the reconstruction efforts. The Palumbos are not related.

“The Village of Port Jefferson is delighted to see active construction taking place to redesign the intersection of Arlington and West Broadway,” Joe Palumbo said in an email. “The village would like to thank Senator Palumbo for his help in getting this project started and NYSDOT for seeing the need for the redesign and executing the new plan.”

To read more about the background to this dispute, see The Port Times Record’s March 24 story, “PJ Village clashes with DOT over Arlington Avenue obstruction,” available on the TBR News Media website.

People rallied in Ridge June 25 to decry the state of Middle Country Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

New York State Route 25, known as Middle Country Road, which crosses through several hamlets in the center of Brookhaven Town, has long gone without fixes to its cracked pavement and massive potholes. Civics, town officials and some state officials said the New York State Department of Transportation has reneged on promises to finally repair the broken asphalt this year.

Gail Lynch-Bailey, the president of the Middle Island Civic Association, calls on New York DOT to pave Middle Country Road, though the DOT claims it never had such plans. Photo by Kyle Barr

“I have been at many meetings over the years to pave Middle Country Road, and last year they did promise us it would be done,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). “The issue has not been addressed for so long, this roadway now requires complete reconstruction. And you know why? Because cheap is expensive in the long run.” 

The road runs parallel to its sister highway Route 25A, which just recently received repaving in Rocky Point. Route 25, on the other hand, has received only minor patches in the past several years, officials said.

Town of Brookhaven officials said the state DOT had promised it would repave the section of road from Mount Sinai-Coram Road to Wading River Hollow Road in Calverton by July. However, officials said recent word from the state said it likely would not happen this year.

At a press conference held in Ridge June 25, state and town officials stood alongside local civic representatives and members of local fire departments calling for the road to be repaved.

Ridge Fire Department Chief Lou Keiser said the road’s uneven surface can make cars swerve and cause accidents. It also greatly impacts ambulance drivers who may be carrying injured people in the back of their vehicles.

“I have been here since 1991, and I haven’t seen it be repaved since then,” Keiser said. 

State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), whose district partially covers a section of the state highway, said he was copied in on an email with state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) that the construction company wished to do the road in a different order, starting with a part of the road in Nassau. The DOT is repaving Route 25B in the Town of North Hempstead and Route 107 in Oyster Bay as part of the state’s repaving project.

“My office got a response from DOT that they’ve had more complaints over in that direction in Nassau,” he said. “The only reason the complaints stopped here, which were more voluminous than anything in Nassau, is because we were told the construction was coming.”

Ridge Fire Department Chief Lou Keiser said Route 25 has not been repaved as long as he’s been in the district, since 1991. Photo by Kyle Barr

The press conference also brought in a measure of politics, even more emphasized during an election year. No local Democratic elected officials were there at the press conference. Members of the Town Board and local state Assembly members criticized the governor for what they called a dismissive attitude to the plight of local infrastructure.

Palumbo also referenced several state officials in Nassau who are seeking reelection this year for why construction was starting on that side of the Island. Palumbo is the Republican candidate looking to take the state Senate District 1 seat once LaValle vacates it at the end of the year.

In a statement, LaValle said, “My office has worked closely with the civics and constituents for well over a year in an attempt to fix the safety issues along this stretch of Route 25. We were given a commitment by DOT that repair and paving would begin this summer and completed in the 2020 calendar year. It is unacceptable that the DOT would do an about-face and put this project off for a year, especially in light of the fact that emergency vehicles cannot safely travel this stretch of road and driver safety is a major concern.”

In response, Stephen Canzoneri, a DOT spokesperson, said the resurfacing project on Route 25 has always been the end of 2021, though there will be spot repairs on the highway for this year.

“The resurfacing of Route 25 was never anticipated to be completed this year,” he said. “In addition, the department plans to make temporary repairs to sections of Route 25 ahead of this winter.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said residents have been contacting her office for years about the state of Middle Country Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

However, that directly contradicts comments sent to local officials last year. New York State DOT sent a letter April 8, 2019, to Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) which stated that the resurfacing project on Route 25 has been “accelerated to a bid opening in early 2020” with a going out to bid in March and a schedule to start construction in spring of 2020 for the described section of the highway. 

The letter was signed by DOT Regional Planning and Program Manager Glenn Murrell. Anker said in reaching out to DOT officials, there seems to have been a mix up on their end for why she and other officials were told it was in the pipe for 2020. She added this issue has been constantly on electives’ minds, with more than a few letters being sent to the DOT over the past several years. 

“I will continue to follow this intensely as this has been going on for a number of years,” she said. “Hopefully we can see the whole road done sometime soon.”

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Mayor: No money for state road paving projects in Port Jeff until 2025

Vanessa Taranto looks at letters she’s sent to officials over the years. Photo by Kyle Barr

For nearly six years, village resident Vanessa Taranto has sounded the drum to the New York State Department of Transportation for a sidewalk running along the north side of West Broadway from Setauket into Port Jefferson Village. 

DOT plans to build a sidewalk on the north side of West Broadway up toward Setauket. Photo by Kyle Barr

In letter after letter, she asked for a chance to take her children down the road without the anxiety of walking in the opposite direction of cars. In 2013, she received a letter from state DOT saying there were no accidents involving pedestrians on the road, and it would have been cost prohibitive. This, especially, had her laughing to herself.

“People are driving up the hill during the day sometimes with the sun in their eyes, and it’s dangerous,” Taranto said. “I wrote back to everyone, ‘Does the Village of Port Jefferson have to wait for someone to die before they build a sidewalk five blocks long?’”

To people like the Port Jefferson mayor and the DOT, she became known as the “sidewalk lady.” 

Now her wish could soon become a reality, and those looking to climb the hill of West Broadway into Setauket may soon find their path aided with a new sidewalk.

DOT confirmed the plans to construct a new sidewalk by late next year along the north side of West Broadway, a quarter-mile stretch compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act connecting existing sidewalk sections between Hoyt Lane and Bayview Terrace.

While this is good news for those along the state-owned stretch of road, of course, there is a catch — and it’s a big one.

While bids have already gone out for a sidewalk along the north side of West Broadway, otherwise known as Route 25A, a true repaving of the steep road from the village into Setauket is missing funds on the part of the state. Mayor Margot Garant told the public at the last board meeting Aug. 5 the state DOT does not have any more funds for road repaving in all of New York until 2025.

Though this does not preclude the village going in to patch holes, complete repaving — usually an expensive endeavor — might not be in the pipe for another six years.

“It means I could not put in a request to have West Broadway repaved,” Garant said, “[DOT] said the best they could do was to have the maintenance crew go out and patch on the south side of West Broadway going down the hill.”

The DOT did not confirm or deny the lack of funds for projects until 2025, and instead said they were looking for other options for dealing with Route 25A.

“Route 25A (Main Street) was resurfaced three years ago between the ferry terminal and NYS Route 112 and we are exploring options for additional paving on Route 25A in the near future,” DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri said in an email. “We are in the process of scheduling a follow-up meeting with the mayor’s team to discuss these projects.”

Garant said she learned this in a meeting with DOT officials several weeks ago along with other village officials including Steve Gallagher, superintendent of the village Department of Public Works.

West Broadway is a steep hill climbing up toward Setauket, and several parts of that street are pockmarked with wide and deep potholes. Route 25A, which is otherwise known as Main Street before turning into West Broadway, travels all the way from Calverton into Queens at Long Island City. Taranto called the state of the road “a nightmare.”

Garant said while the village could ask the state for permission to go in and patch the worst parts of the road, the village Department of Public Works would not be keen on spending time and money on a road that should be handled by the state.

“If we’re going to do this, we should do it right and make it one continuous walkable community.”

— Margot Garant

Though repaving on West Broadway has been stymied, the north facing sidewalk is still in the pipe. One plan for the new sidewalk goes all the way down the north side of West Broadway until Beach Street, but the other would be pushed back to start after Bayview Terrace. Garant was adamant it should start by the bottom of the hill.

“If we’re going to do this, we should do it right and make it one continuous walkable community,” the mayor said. 

The mayor said the village will be having a follow-up meeting Aug. 27 with the DOT. 

The final decision comes down to DOT officials. Meg Danielson, a transportation analyst for the state DOT who will be meeting with village officials later this month, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Meanwhile, Port Jeff is gathering funds to repave several village-owned roads, including: Pine Tree Court, Nadia Court, Contessa Court, Roslyn Court, Peninsula Drive and Landing Lane at a total cost $349,404. Paving is being done by Rosemar Contracting Inc. of East Moriches. Previous quotes for repaving had come in at just under $500,000, according to village officials.

“Their quote was so wonderful that we added another street,” Garant said at the Aug. 5 board meeting. “That’s not to say there’s other streets in the village that need to be done.”

And despite the state of West Broadway, Taranto is looking forward to a chance to bring her children down into Port. For one of her daughters, Roxanne, who is on the autism spectrum, it’s an important opportunity to allow her some degree of independence as she grows toward high school.

It wasn’t just for her, Taranto said, nor her other daughter Maggie, but for the other 12 children — 11 girls and one boy — living on her block along Longacre Court, who she said have developed into a close-knit community. 

“If I can do this for all of those kids to keep them safe, that’s really my goal,” Taranto said.

A stormwater retention pond on Route 25A created by the state continues to cause problems for residents, including those living in the Village of Poquott. Photo by Maria Hoffman

Village of Poquott officials are keeping a close eye on a Route 25A stormwater retention pond directly outside of the hamlet.

Richard Parrish, Poquott’s stormwater management officer, sent a letter last month to New York State Department of Transportation calling for the state to fix persistent problems with the stormwater retention pond slightly east of Route 25A and Van Brunt Manor Road on the south side of the roadway.

Poquott residents complained that the retention pond creates unsafe and unsanitary conditions, according to Parrish’s letter. The unfenced structure is constructed of earthen walls and an earthen base, and residents are concerned about stabilization issues, where the sidewalls can collapse and cause a person or animal to fall or become trapped. Parrish said after a heavy rainfall the structure can fill with up to 4 feet of water.

It is the second letter in a year that Parrish, president and CEO of environmental consulting company Impact Environmental, has sent to Margaret Conklin, DOT’s acting transportation maintenance engineer.

“It’s not working because it’s always full of water, and it’s supposed to drain.”

— George Hoffman

After the first letter Parrish wrote in June 2018, the state sent DOT workers to the site July 10 to investigate the reported issues, but village residents still see it as a nuisance and have not seen any improvements.

Residents are worried that the standing water has attracted rats and mosquitoes; the structure has no controls when it overflows for capturing sediment and preventing the distribution of sediments; contaminants such as nitrates, chlorides and pathogens can possibly run into the road and village; and runoff might go directly to the water table and cause possible contamination.

“While we are aware that the department is exempt from certain environmental regulations with respect to road maintenance, we believe it is your requirement to operate within the intent of these regulations,” Parrish said in the December letter.

George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said placing a filter system at the location was an opportunity for the state to create a rain garden that usually has vegetation that thrives on the nitrogen in the water, with rocks and stones to improve drainage.

By comparison, he said the current structure looks like a big pit with an asphalt strip to drain water.

“It’s not working because it’s always full of water, and it’s supposed to drain,” he said, adding he’s heard stories of animals getting trapped in it.

Maria Hoffman, a volunteer with the task force, said the particular stretch of Route 25A on the south side is known for clay under the surface, which causes poor drainage.

Stephen Canzoneri, a DOT spokesman, said the agency is aware of the situation and continues to investigate options for a more permanent solution.

During the Jan. 10 Village of Poquott work session, the board of trustees decided to table a decision as to how to proceed about the matter until its next meeting Feb. 11 and allow the state additional time to respond to Parrish’s December letter.

A left-turn arrow will be installed at the intersection of Route 25A and County Road 21 in Rocky Point for safety reasons. Photo by Kyle Barr

The accident-prone intersection of Route 25A and County Road 21 in Rocky Point could be getting a new traffic light that local officials hope will curb injuries and fatalities.

“In response to community interest, the New York State Department of Transportation will update the traffic signal at Route 25A and County Road 21 with a protected left turn indicated by a green arrow phase for vehicles turning left from eastbound Route 25A onto northbound [Hallock Landing Road],” said Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for the regional DOT office that covers Suffolk County. “This is being done following an extensive review of the intersection and will reflect the traffic pattern for westbound Route 25A.”

Canzoneri said that a new left-turn signal will be installed by the state DOT in September. A protected turning light allows drivers in the turning lane to strictly take a left while other drivers going straight are stopped at a red light. Westbound Route 25A already has a protected turning light.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said the intersection has a long history of vehicular incidents over the years. The best way to avoid problems there, she said, was to avoid making left turns onto Route 25A or Hallock Landing Road.

“That’s a very busy intersection, and there’s a lot going on there,” Bonner said. “People need to drive defensively and plan their routes so they don’t have to make a left.”

Bonner has been in contact with state DOT officials and they have sent surveyors out since 2017 to analyze the dangers of the intersection, she said.

The intersection at the corner of Route 25A and Rocky Point Yaphank Road, as Route 21 is also known, is a notoriously dangerous intersection with new accidents reported every year, some of which have caused fatalities, such as the death of Rocky Point resident Carol Sardegna in September 2016. One recent crash occurred Aug. 15 at the intersection, according to the Rocky Point Watch Facebook page.

The state DOT said it would not install a left-turn arrow northbound and southbound on County Road 21 because it would reduce time for vehicles on both roads, according to a state DOT letter received by Bonner. The letter also said the state department plans to relocate the east and southbound STOP bar pavement markings and upgrade the County Road 21 crosswalks to be more visible.

Bonner said she believes the turn signal should help reduce accidents at the intersection.

“People by law will only be able to make a left when you can,” Bonner said. “It doesn’t mean people still won’t try to do it, but I feel confident more people obey turning signals than not.”

John Cerato stands next to an overgrown median on Route 25A in Miller Place. Photo by Alex Petroski

Growth is usually a positive thing, but growth in Miller Place has become a stick in the eye to a longtime resident and elected official alike.

John Cerato, a 20-year Miller Place resident who previously lived in Rocky Point, told TBR News Media this week he has progressively seen the condition of vegetation on many of the medians on Route 25A — a New York State highway — falling into a state of disrepair as it becomes overgrown and unkempt. He said he sees it predominantly as an aesthetic issue, but also has some safety concerns related to the increasingly out-of-control shrubbery. 

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) echoed much of Cerato’s observations about the medians in a June 18 letter to the editor in which she proposed removing the shrubs and weeds taking over the road dividers and replacing them with flower beds.

A median near where North Country Road and Route 25A merge in Rocky Point, which includes a sidewalk and crosswalk, is almost too overgrown to walk on.

“This will not only save money by reducing maintenance (which obviously is not being done as often as needed), but it will also provide a visually pleasing appearance as we travel along Route 25A in the 6th Legislative District,” she said. 

In the letter, Anker said she has facilitated a partnership between the New York State Department of Transportation and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office through the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program to provide some maintenance on the medians recently, but even that hasn’t quite been enough.

“We recently heard back from the [NYSDOT] regional director, Joe Brown, that later this month they will begin to start replacing the 12 overgrown medians on Route 25A with a blue lyme grass similar to what has been successfully installed on Route 112,” said Anker’s Legislative Aide Robyn Fellrath-Maresca in an email July 19. “The grass is easier to maintain and minimizes weed growth. Legislator Anker appreciates the response and hopes that the change will improve the visual landscape of the community.”

Fellrath-Maresca added that Anker’s office had received numerous complaints about the medians in recent months from constituents.

Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for the regional DOT office that covers Suffolk County, shared an update on the matter via email July 25.

“NYSDOT is improving the medians along Route 25A,” he said. “The current landscaping will be removed in the coming weeks and replaced with blue lyme grass, the same grass which is already in place along the renovated portions of Route 112. DOT will continue to work with residents and local elected officials to beautify our roadways.”

Cerato pointed to a particularly troublesome area on Route 25A in Rocky Point, where it merges with North Country Road on its north side. A walkway between the two roads is overgrown to the point that those looking to cross over Route 25A from north to south would have to step onto North Country Road or fight through the shoulder-high vegetation. Cerato said he has seen cases when parking at North Shore Little League baseball fields south of Route 25A is full, so people who park across North Country Road and walk to the fields are forced into unsafe situations.

“To have to sort of put up with this is ridiculous I think,” he said.

The Miller Place resident said he is also concerned that if an accident occurs on one side of the road and causes the cars to jump the median into oncoming traffic, those motorists would have no time to react.

“There should be some visibility,” he said. “You’re not going to have any idea they’re coming.”