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No left-turn signal eyed at Holbrook intersection

The new storm drain on Brook Street in

The new storm drain on Brook Street in Oakdale; the old drain had collapsed, leaving a sunken roadway. (March 27, 2013) Credit: Newsday Judy Cartwright

There is a dangerous intersection at Furrows Road and Patchogue-Holbrook Road in Holbrook. Furrows was widened on the east side last year to make room for right- and left-turn lanes. The problem is that no left-turn arrow was added, so there is no safe way to turn south onto Patchogue-Holbrook Road. Each day there are numerous near accidents.

-- William Toran, Holbrook

Suffolk County has studied the intersection three times, most recently in 2011, and determined that it has yet to meet the "necessary standards" for a left-turn signal.

The county's Department of Public Works collected data for the intersection and compared it to benchmarks proposed in the Institute of Transporation Engineers' Manual of Traffic Signal Design, which county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the county relies on.

Those standards are based on four criteria, she said:

The "cross product of left-turning vehicles versus opposing through vehicles"

The number of left turns per signal cycle

Delays to left-turning vehicles

Crash history involving left-turning vehicles

On a two-lane street such as Furrows Road, the number in that first category -- left-turning vehicles multiplied by opposing through traffic during the peak hour -- would need to exceed 50,000, Institute official Doug Noble told Watchdog.

As for the other categories: The left-turn volume would need to exceed two vehicles per light cycle during the peak hour, the average delay for left-turning vehicles must be at least 35 seconds and the number of left-turn crashes for one approach must reach either four in one year, six in two years or 10 in two years for both approaches.

Baird-Streeter would not provide data for those categories from the 2011 study, saying only: "Based on that criteria, this intersection does not warrant the introduction of either eastbound and westbound left-turn phases at this time."

At our request, Suffolk County Police Department research analysts searched the Fifth Precinct's files. The results: 53 accidents occurred at, or near, the intersection in the past four years: 15 in 2009, 15 in 2010, six in 2011, and 17 in 2012.

But since those numbers don't reveal details, such as how many accidents involved drivers making left turns onto Patchogue-Holbrook Road, Newsday has filed a Freedom of Information request for copies of all accident reports at the intersection for those four years. The Police Department said the request could take a few months to complete.

Suffolk residents with concerns about left-turns on county roads can call 631-852-4010.



"The storm drain has collapsed in front of my home," Teresa McGlenn reports. "We have reported this to the town at least three times. The school bus stop is right here. I have to tell you, we believe this is a dangerous situation."

First, the good news: The storm drain -- on Brook Street in Oakdale -- was replaced last week. An Islip Town Public Works crew arrived Tuesday morning to extract the worn-out drain and install a new one.

Several weeks earlier, the town had responded to the collapse by filling the hole with sand and marking it off with saw horses.

But the sand began to settle. "It's sinking right before my eyes," McGlenn said. She had told the town about the worsening condition but couldn't get a forecast for permanent repairs.

What with the blizzard in early February and high winds ever since, the saw horses didn't stay put, leaving the sinking roadway exposed. McGlenn and her husband, Richard, feared for drivers rounding the nearby corner and joggers running in the dark.

So we contacted the town and, two days later, received an email from Commissioner of Public Works Thomas Owens.

Shortly after the hole was filled with sand, he wrote, "we requested a utility mark-out" to show the location of underground structures such as water mains. A mark-out is required before the town has clearance to dig.

But getting one "in a timely fashion" has been difficult because they're in demand in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, he said.

Because of children in the neighborhood and the nearby bus stop, "my staff spent the last two days communicating with the utility companies and were able to secure clearance to dig in this area," he wrote.

On Tuesday morning a department crew arrived with a payloader and removed the old drain -- they estimated it dated to the 1960s -- and installed one that can handle 2,550 gallons, more than twice the capacity of the original.

The excavated area needs to settle for 10 to 14 days before work can be completed, he said.


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