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Brookhaven residents disapprove of DOT plan to add interchange on Sunrise Highway near Mastic

Kara Spillman, of Manorville, and state DOT civil

Kara Spillman, of Manorville, and state DOT civil engineer Jim Kielian discuss the proposed interchange at Sunrise Highway and Barnes Road, near Mastic, at a recent public meeting. Credit: Shelby Knowles

A plan to add entrance and exit ramps to a section of Sunrise Highway in southeastern Brookhaven Town was panned by many residents who reviewed the proposal last week at a meeting in Mastic.

The state Department of Transportation has proposed adding an interchange with eastbound and westbound ramps connecting Sunrise Highway and Barnes Road. Officials said the $9.5 million plan would ease chronic traffic bottlenecks on nearby roads such as William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway.

Moriches, Mastic and Manorville residents who attended the meeting Thursday at the Mastic Fire Department questioned the need for the ramps and said they would create traffic jams on Barnes Road, a two-lane town street lined with houses and nurseries.

"It's horrible," said Heather Kroll, a Moriches resident who lives near Barnes Road. "This is a beautiful farmland area that they're ruining. . . . It's not even necessary."

Michael Buckheit of Moriches called the plan "a waste of $9 million."

State officials have said the interchange, about halfway between existing interchanges at William Floyd Parkway and Wading River Road, would cut travel time by about six minutes. Construction would begin in 2021 and be completed in 2023, state officials said.

About 150 residents at the firehouse meeting reviewed plans on signs posted around a community room and submitted comments on sheets provided by transportation officials. 

Almost all of the 17 people interviewed at the meeting about the plan opposed it.

"I love it," said Steve Silvestri, one of the few who did. "It's going to clear up the traffic on Montauk Highway."

A man named Ryan, who declined to give his last name, said the project would help local businesses.

But others said the proposal was poorly conceived.

"It hasn't been thoroughly thought out," said Jim Gleason, vice president of the East Moriches Property Owners Association. "You have a presentation that doesn't show reasons for what you want to do or present alternatives."

Shirley resident Raymond Keenan said, "Barnes Road just isn't cut out for traffic. It's got dips and gullies and turns."

Some residents suggested building the interchange about a mile east at Moriches-Middle Island Road. They said doing so could help alleviate traffic congestion there that they attributed to nearby schools and new apartments.

"It's tough when you have all the buses in traffic," said Marion Diener, of Manorville said. "It's only getting worse with all the apartments going in."

Some residents feared that they would be blocked from exiting their driveways by traffic backed up on Barnes Road. Others anticipated difficult left-hand turns.

"There's a lot of things they could do with $9.5 million than to ruin this quiet country road," said Christine Nash, of Moriches .

Others agreed. "I don't see the need for it," said Cathy Gonzalez, also of Moriches. "They didn't bother saying, 'What about the residents?' "

State transportation officials will accept written comments through Oct. 5. 

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