East Northport's Larkfield Road gets new traffic system

The Town of Huntington officially unveils its new The Town of Huntington officially unveils its new $1.8 million traffic signal system aimed at improving traffic flow on busy Larkfield Road. (July 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

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Huntington officials formally unveiled Monday a new computerized, coordinated traffic-signal system designed to improve travel on Larkfield Road, among the town's busiest venues.

"This system is designed to get traffic travel speed up to the speed limit," said Supervisor Frank Petrone, speaking at a news conference at Town Hall, at which the system was publicly showcased.

The $1.8 million project, which the town launched about two months ago, has improved traffic on the road, he said.

"This truly has been workable," Petrone said. "People have said it's much better than it was; the traffic now moves."

The Naztec traffic control system involves sensors, along with cameras, at 11 town-controlled intersections on the road. The sensors can tell when cars are waiting at the intersection and adjust the timing of the lights. Lights at intersections should stay green on Larkfield Road if there are no cars on the side streets.

The light wouldn't change immediately on a side street when a car pulls up, but the sensor would indicate that the next timing sequence of lights should start, based on coordination that has been set up through the program, town officials said. Before, the traffic lights on Larkfield Road functioned independently, which slowed traffic on the road.

The town started working on the project in October 2011, after receiving grants of 80 percent from the federal government and 15 percent from the state. The town paid for about $90,000 of the project, Petrone said.

Larkfield is a north-south road that runs for about 3.8 miles, stretching from Daly Road to just north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks in East Northport.

Traffic control systems are used at the state and county level in New York, but this is the first time the Town of Huntington has used one, said Steve McGloin, Huntington's director of transportation and traffic safety.

About 27,000 cars drive on Larkfield Road daily, according to a town Department of Transportation and Traffic Safety traffic survey from several years ago. Including time spent at traffic lights, the average speed of someone traveling from Jericho Turnpike to Fifth Avenue, a little more than 2 miles, was 18 mph, in areas where the speed limit is 30 and 40 mph.

In the short term, the town plans to have 24 signals included in this computerized control system, including on Wolf Hill Road and Walt Whitman Road, McGloin said.

The project also includes energy-efficient LED traffic and pedestrian signals with countdown timers. The pedestrian crosswalks and handicap ramps were also made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The town will study the effects of the new traffic system to see if changes are needed.

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