Route 110 turn lane for Melville Mall comes as a surprise to many drivers

On northbound Route 110 in Melville, where drivers On northbound Route 110 in Melville, where drivers are given little notice that the right lane changes into a turn lane, a black car travels straight through the intersection before merging with through traffic. Photo Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column

Recent work on Route 110 in Melville near the new Northern State Parkway bridge left many readers curious, and often annoyed, about some of the changes. Here's one that caught many by surprise:

Just north of the parkway bridge, northbound Route 110 narrows from three lanes to two. The right lane changes into a turn lane for the Melville Mall shopping center, home to a Waldbaum's.

One driver who expressed concern about that arrangement is David Abrams of Melville.

"All in all, they did a wonderful and fast job with the construction," he wrote in an email about the work on Route 110 and the new parkway bridge. Then he got down to business:

"The right lane is not (clearly) marked early enough for right turn only. Numerous cars ride the right lane up to the Waldbaum's entrance" but drive straight, which requires a quick merge into traffic before the pavement ends.

We're on that road often and have seen similar episodes. On one recent morning, three cars in the right lane accelerated through the intersection before merging into traffic.

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Such a maneuver can be a challenge because the road is often busy. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.

The problem isn't the absence of signs; two on the approach announce Right Lane Must Turn Right. But we have to wonder if, as Abrams wrote, their location is too close to give drivers a sufficient heads up.

We asked the state Department of Transportation if more prominent signs can be posted, perhaps overhead, and if the lane configuration is permanent.

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New signs aren't likely, the department told us. And the arrangement is not permanent.

Work on the roadway is incomplete and, once it's finished, the right lane will continue as a "through travel lane" past the shopping center and then taper back into two lanes, department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said. A dedicated right-turn-only lane will remain at the shopping center entrance, she said.

The work is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Below-freezing temperatures, snow and ice have limited work in recent weeks, she said, and "full and active construction will resume as soon as the weather permits."

As for the current lane arrangement: It's "a common traffic engineering method for terminating a travel lane," Peters said, and added: "We will share your information with the Suffolk County Police to alert them of your concern."

Drivers, consider yourself warned.

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A factory across the road runs a "dust collector" that sounds like a jet engine from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. We're fairly certain that the motor needs repair or replacement, but we have not been able to get any help.

-- Howard Braff, Holtsville

In the fall, Braff asked Islip Town to take action to lower the noise from the factory. He and a neighbor filed a complaint -- Braff was told two complainants are required -- then waited for the outcome.

The response was unexpected: Islip told him it has no jurisdiction because the factory is across the town line, in Brookhaven.

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So Braff started over, and wrote to us, too. On our visit, the hum from the factory on Waverly Avenue was apparent. At issue is whether it's louder than the town allows.

Brookhaven's Noise Control Ordinance says noise from industrial sites, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., should not exceed 65 decibels at nearby homes. (Overnight, the limit drops to 50 decibels.)

Braff said an app on his smartphone has registered levels higher than 65.

We contacted the office of Councilman Timothy Mazzei, whose district includes the area, and a few days later town public safety officers took noise-level readings on Braff's property. Mazzei's legislative aide, Lucy Murphy, told us the levels did peak slightly higher than 65 but the readings did not warrant a notice of violation.

Braff was disappointed and said he may hire a noise consultant with equipment that can accurately gauge industrial noise. He wrote in an email that his readings indicate it "very often peaks out at 75," a level corresponding to busy traffic or a vacuum cleaner, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

We tried using a phone app, too, though we can't vouch for its accuracy. In Braff's front yard, the needle bounced from the 40s into the 60s, occasionally exceeding 65. On another day, roadside readings directly across from the factory were slightly higher.

The decibel limits are listed in a 2004 attachment to the town noise ordinance. A decade later finds many Long Islanders working out of home offices, a change with implications for how much noise is suitable during the day. Braff is among those who don't have the luxury of leaving noise behind when the work day begins.

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