Traffic circles at five intersections of Smithtown's Main Street would improve safety by slowing vehicles on the notoriously dangerous road, according to an engineer hired by traffic safety advocates.
Roundabouts on a 1-mile stretch are "the only traffic control system that will reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts" on Main Street, engineer Michael Wallwork said in a report released Thursday by Long Island AARP. He also suggested reducing the road from four lanes to two and adding a raised center median.
"The combination of low speeds, lane reductions and the addition of a median will enable pedestrians to cross Main Street," he wrote.
Three pedestrians have been killed on Main Street in the past three years. The road, a segment of state routes 25 and 25A, was named among Long Island's most dangerous last week by Manhattan-based Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
The state is expected next month to begin eliminating one westbound lane and creating a median and turning lane by painting new lines on Main Street. Two eastbound lanes would remain intact.
The mother of Courtney Sipes, the 11-year-old Smithtown girl whose November 2009 death focused attention on safety on Main Street, said roundabouts are "the best recommendation I've seen to address the problem."
"It keeps traffic moving, but it slows it down so you can react to pedestrians quicker," Lavena Sipes said. A foundation named for Courtney co-funded the study with Tri-State, AARP and smart-growth advocate Vision Long Island.
State transportation officials would consider "anything that is feasible and will help to improve safety," including roundabouts, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Eileen Peters said. State crews have built them in Great Neck Plaza, Huntington and North Haven.
Wallwork, of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute of Port Townsend, Wash., proposed a two-lane traffic circle at Main Street and Route 111, and smaller roundabouts where Main Street intersects with Landing, Lawrence, Maple and New York avenues. Wallwork also recommended diverting traffic to state Route 347 and creating a bypass road.
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio had not seen Wallwork's report. "I'll await the decision of DOT engineers as to the practicability of implementing roundabouts at those intersections," he said.
AARP plans to host a March 23 public meeting to discuss the study at the Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St. in Smithtown.