North Lindenhurst residents are split on whether Suffolk County’s proposal to reduce a stretch of Straight Path from four lanes to two will help reduce speeding.
Suffolk County’s Department of Public Works has proposed a “Road Diet” for Straight Path between Sunrise Highway and Wellwood Avenue. The department’s plan calls for a reduction from two lanes in each direction and no turning lane to one lane in each direction, with a center turning lane and widened shoulders.
The purpose of the proposed changes will be to increase stop line sight distance from side streets and lower speeds along the roughly half-mile section of Straight Path.
On Monday, Daniel Dresch Jr., director of traffic engineering for the department, presented the plan to about 30 residents. Also in attendance was Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) and Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst).
The community has been concerned about speeding after several fatal accidents in the past year on that section of Straight Path, where the speed limit is 35 mph. Speed was a factor in all of them. Dresch said resurfacing of that section of the roadway is scheduled for the fall, so it was thought that it would be a good opportunity to do the reconfiguration at that time.
“We’re looking for the temperature of the room whether to move forward,” he said. If the reconfiguration does not work out, Dresch said, next year the lanes can be put back.
Resident response was mixed. In an informal survey, 17 of those in attendance supported the reconfiguration and 13 were against it. Many spoke of a desire for traffic lights instead. Dresch said there is a traffic study being done to determine whether additional lights would work there.
Resident John Schiavone called the plan “ridiculous” and said it would make it impossible for side street residents to cross Straight Path. “There’s too much traffic to go from two to one,” he said.
John Legutko, a volunteer firefighter at the nearby North Lindenhurst Fire Department, called the plan a “super idea” and said many in the department favor the wider shoulder lanes so vehicles can easily pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
“We’ve had too many fatalities there,” he said. “Why not give it a shot? It’s the cheapest way to slow it down.”