A $5 million project to reconstruct the Riverside traffic circle has been completed two months ahead of schedule, paving the way for an Oct. 26 ribbon-cutting marking the transformation of the roadway.
The reconstruction of the circle where Nugent Drive, County Road 104, Flanders Road, and Lake and Peconic avenues meet expands the former one-lane circle to a two-lane modern roundabout and adds a new storm sewer system to address chronic flooding problems.
Local and county officials and residents said they hope the improvements reduce traffic congestion at the traffic circle, which is used by thousands of commuters daily, especially during the summer, and serves as a major gateway to the East End.
"The old small circle was leading to significant [traffic] backups, and it seems like this new one will be resolving those problems," Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Friday, adding that he expects that the changes will lead to "a huge improvement" in beautifying the Riverside area that will "pave the way for more economic development" in the hamlet, one of the most economically distressed communities on Long Island.
"It's the completion of many years' worth of work in traffic studies, engineering, planning and construction," Schneiderman said. Construction began in May 2017.
Ron Fisher, a Flanders resident and president of the Flanders, Riverside & Northampton Community Association, said Friday that he and his group are excited to have the traffic circle finished, calling it "the entryway to our community, and it’s one that we can now be proud of.”
Before the improvements, Fisher, who normally uses the traffic circle to get to meetings and community events, said driving through it was a “terrible” experience.
“There were 12- to 20-minute delays during peak times every day,” he said. “It was really difficult to move cars through, it was unsafe for pedestrians, there was no plan for bicyclists, and this [new] circle really fixes everything.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will join elected officials from Southampton and Riverhead towns and elsewhere at the 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting.
“The completion of this project is part of our larger vision to invest in our infrastructure and transportation to connect our vibrant downtowns,” Bellone said.