Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
Erwin Hutzmann lives on a road that doesn't exist any more.
The house he bought in 1968 had a Route 112 address. But the house wasn't on new Route 112; it was on a roadway that had become known as Old Route 112, aka Old Port Jefferson-Patchogue Highway, which had been bypassed decades earlier when the new road was built.
For many years the state Department of Transportation plowed snow from the old road, an arrangement that ended about the time the department vacated a nearby facility. Town crews took over the job, Mr. Hutzmann said, but over time plowing and other maintenance disappeared.
The road seemed to have fallen off the map.
Last year's mild winter was a godsend: Mr. Hutzmann didn't get snowed in, so he was able to get to his regular appointments at the Northport VA Medical Center. But he fears his luck won't hold. And if he must hire a snow plow operator and otherwise assume responsibility for keeping the roadway clear, he'd like to obtain title to it.
Because the roadway had been a state road, Watchdog turned to the state. It turns out the state had transferred ownership "to the Town of Brookhaven via official order #558 on November 9, 1954," transportation department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in an email.
Brookhaven does indeed have title, town spokesman Jack Krieger said last week, but has no plans to transfer ownership. And when it snows? "The plow operator in the area will be advised to make certain" that the road is cleared, Krieger said in an email.
The town went one step further: Mr. Hutzmann was given the phone number of a specific town employee. If the road doesn't get plowed, he knows who to call.
-- JUDY CARTWRIGHT
Sayville intersection gets left-turn signal
Drivers in Sayville can expect safer left-turn conditions at one downtown intersection in the next year.
Suffolk County's Department of Public Works determined that a left-turn signal is warranted for eastbound drivers on Montauk Highway/Main Street turning north onto Railroad Avenue. We contacted the department after Sheralee Malenovsky, a resident of the community, told us that the relentless oncoming traffic means drivers must wait through multiple light changes before a left turn is possible. The predicament was featured on this page in March.
The county made the decision after on-site observations in the summer, the intersection's most "heavily trafficked time," spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in a statement. The county relied on such factors as the number of left turns per traffic signal cycle, the delays to left-turning vehicles and crash history involving left-turning vehicles, she said, adding that the work "should be done in 2013."
Malenovsky said she was pleased to hear a left-turn signal will be installed, adding: "I was just stuck at that corner two nights ago."
Residents with concerns regarding traffic signals on Suffolk roads should call the county's Department of Public Works at 631-852-4010.
-- MICHAEL R. EBERT
But DOT says none needed on Shoreham one
But a Route 25A intersection in Shoreham -- one we featured in November after a reader told us it requires "courage, bravery and a game of chicken" to cross -- will not be getting a traffic signal.
Kathy Lynch of Shoreham told us last year that the T-intersection, where Ridge Road meets Route 25A, poses a hazard. She said drivers turning left onto 25A need to pause after crossing eastbound lanes so they can gauge if westbound lanes are clear. That pause in the center divider is frightening, she said, because eastbound vehicles pass so close to the rear of her car.
We took her concerns to the state Department of Transportation, but it found that neither traffic volume nor the "pattern of crashes" warrants a traffic signal, spokeswoman Eileen Peters said.
The numbers fell short during a summer traffic study: An average of 44 motorists per hour made the left turn, with fewer turning right. The average wait to make a left turn was less than 23 seconds.
"These figures are far below the criteria for a new traffic signal," Peters said in a statement. "We hope your reader understands that NYSDOT engineers must be assured that any change in traffic controls would indeed improve overall safety and traffic flow at this intersection, and unfortunately, that wouldn't be the case here."
Long Islanders with traffic safety concerns on state roads should contact the DOT's Regional Traffic Engineering and Safety Office at 631-952-6020.
-- MICHAEL R. EBERT