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Drivers still speed on St. James street despite redesign, residents say

A truck works it's way through a chicane,

A truck works it's way through a chicane, a traffic-calming measure, on Montclair Avenue in St. James, Sept. 1, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

The first chicane -- a road design that adds curves or features like plantings to slow traffic -- installed in the Town of Smithtown has not solved traffic safety problems on a residential street used as a shortcut, some residents say.

The chicane was completed last month on Montclair Avenue in a St. James neighborhood where some have complained for more than a year about large truck traffic and speeding.

"It has not improved one thing," said Patricia McGovern, who lives in the area. "The larger truck traffic is still going down there. We still have speeding from Montclair Avenue on to Rutherford Street.

"Nobody even wants to walk their children on these roads because they're so afraid," she added. "We don't need to have traffic like we're in Queens."

Mitchell Crowley, town traffic safety director, was not available for comment Monday.

McGovern said posted signs barring trucks that are over 2 1/2 tons of unladen weight have been ignored, and large trucks that she was told would not be able to maneuver through the chicane have done so by driving over curbing surrounding it.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Monday "the curbing around the chicane had to be contoured, so that if emergency vehicles had to access the road, they could drive over the curbing."

To deter trucks from driving over the curbing, the town last week installed plastic vertical poles, Vecchio said. He estimated the chicane cost $60,000.

Dan Tacktill, who lives one block east of Montclair, said the chicane was "a misappropriation of funds . . . I don't think there was a need for it."

Tacktill, 36, said the town bowed to pressure.

"If you're going to appease a few that are vocal every time there is a problem . . . then there's certainly going to be a lot of people saying 'they got a chicane, I want one as well.' "

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