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Officials: U.S. Open spectators fill LIRR trains, easing congestion

The Long Island Rail Road is providing service to and from the tournament via a temporary Shinnecock Hills train station built by the USGA.

Traffic on the eastbound Sunrise Highway in Hampton

Traffic on the eastbound Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays on the opening day of the U.S. Open on Thursday. Photo Credit: John Roca

So many spectators took the train to the U.S. Open that the parking lots at two high-volume LIRR stations on the Montauk Branch were filled to capacity, railroad officials said.

“Due to the volume of customers traveling to the U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills, the LIRR parking lots at Patchogue and Babylon stations are full,” the Long Island Rail Road said in an email alert at noon Thursday. “Please use alternate means to get to LIRR stations.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the amount of people using the trains helped to ease traffic congestion.

The LIRR sent six trains to the Shinnecock Hills train station on Thursday, railroad officials said. The temporary station, built by the United States Golf Association, is expected to carry as many as 9,000 people a day to and from the U.S. Open.

LIRR officials announced around 5 p.m. Thursday that the regularly scheduled 6:17 p.m. train from Jamaica to Montauk would make an added stop at Shinnecock around 8:18 p.m. for the rest of this week.

The railroad also added a stop at Shinnecock to another westbound Montauk Branch morning train to provide an additional option for passengers traveling from the far East End.

LIRR officials said they were experiencing customer volume as expected. They expect parking lots at LIRR stations to fill up, as U.S. Open spectators are parking there in addition to every day LIRR customers.

Traffic troubles dominated media coverage of the practice rounds at the tournament this week, and police hope people are getting the message that travel by train is a better option.

“The train drops you off right at the event,” said Southampton Town Police spokeswoman Lt. Susan Ralph. “People are probably saying, ‘I’ll just take the train.’ ”

Morning traffic heading to the first round of the U.S. Open was heavy and stacked up in spots, but generally moved, Southampton officials said.

And that was to be expected: Traffic congestion is a given this time of year due to a heady mix of commuters and warm weather travelers, said Ralph.

Even Tiger Woods weighed in about the traffic troubles.

Woods said Tuesday the traffic that choked out the East End could prove intensely problematic to some of the golfers staying at the Riverhead host hotel. He said it was entirely possible someone might miss his tee time when it counted the most.

Woods, no stranger to the Hamptons, said “staying on the dinghy” — a joking term for his 155-foot yacht named Privacy — certainly had eradicated the issue.

“There are a few guys so far this week that said that it’s taken them from the hotel, 2 1/2 to three hours,” Woods said.

With Alfonso Castillo

So many spectators took the train to the U.S. Open that the parking lots at two high-volume LIRR stations on the Montauk Branch were filled to capacity, railroad officials said.

“Due to the volume of customers traveling to the U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills, the LIRR parking lots at Patchogue and Babylon stations are full,” the railroad said in an email alert at noon Thursday. “Please use alternate means to get to LIRR stations.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the lare number of people using the trains helped to ease automobile traffic congestion.

The LIRR sent six trains to the Shinnecock Hills train station on Thursday, railroad officials said. The temporary station, built by the U.S. Golf Association, is expected to carry as many as 9,000 people a day to and from the U.S. Open.

LIRR officials announced around 5 p.m. Thursday that the regularly scheduled 6:17 p.m. train from Jamaica to Montauk would make an added stop at Shinnecock around 8:18 p.m. for the rest of the week.

A stop was also added at Shinnecock on a westbound Montauk Branch morning train to provide an additional option for those traveling from the far East End.

Officials said the railroad was experiencing expected customer volume. Parking lots at LIRR stations were likely to fill up, they said, as U.S. Open spectators are added to everyday LIRR customers.

Traffic troubles dominated media coverage of the tournament’s practice rounds this week. Police were hoping people were getting the message that the train is a better option.

“The train drops you off right at the event,” said Lt. Susan Ralph, spokeswoman for Southampton Town Police. “People are probably saying, ‘I’ll just take the train.’ ”

Morning traffic heading to Thursday’s first round of the Open was heavy and stacked up in spots, but it generally moved, Southampton officials said.

And that was as expected: Traffic congestion is a given this time of year with a mix of commuters and warm weather travelers, said Ralph.

Police have been tweaking traffic flow throughout the week, with varying degrees of success, but the true test came as tens of thousands descended on the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Thursday.

Mollie Scruggs, who runs a local car service, offered the following traffic report: “It’s still really, really bad, but it’s always bad at this time.”

Now, with more cars on the road, the morning backup is lasting even longer, she said.

Even Tiger Woods weighed in about the traffic.

Woods said Tuesday the traffic that choked the East End could prove intensely problematic to some of the golfers staying at the Riverhead host hotel. It was entirely possible, he said, that someone might miss his tee time when it counted the most.

Woods, no stranger to the Hamptons, said “staying on the dinghy” — a joking term for his 155-foot yacht Privacy — had eradicated the issue for him.

“There are a few guys so far this week that said that it’s taken them from the hotel, 2 1/2 to three hours,” Woods said.

Officials have yet to find a way to avoid all the stop-and-go traffic, but they’ve made some improvements since the gridlock that gripped the event Monday, during both the morning and evening rushes.

They’re offering some tips. If possible, take the train.

If driving, keep to the main roads. Much of the traffic is jamming up on side roads as people try to avoid the main drags, Schneiderman said. But officials have modified traffic lights and intersections along Montauk Highway and County Road 39 to hasten the movement of vehicles. Many traffic lights have been set to flash yellow and some side roads have been blocked off to keep traffic flowing.

In addition, officers are directing traffic at major intersections during heavy travel times.

Try to avoid the morning and evening rushes. This time of year, commuters and vacation travelers create heavy traffic from 5 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.

Monday presented the worst traffic woes. A combination of commuters and spectators headed to and from the Southampton course backed up traffic for 10 miles on Montauk Highway in the morning. And the afternoon wasn’t much better.

Traffic eased somewhat Tuesday, as authorities grappled with the gridlock. Town Police Chief Steve Skrynecki said police received live feeds from Suffolk County police helicopters and a drone provided by the state to help keep traffic moving.

Wednesday saw much of the same, Schneiderman said.

But all that, as they say, was just practice.

Friday trains to U.S. Open

Nine eastbound trains leave Penn Station to arrive at the Shinnecock station between 8:20 a.m. and 8:17 p.m.

Nine westbound trains leave Montauk to arrive at the Shinnecock station between 6:27 a.m. and 8:40 p.m.

For departure times and stations, go to:

http://web.mta.info/lirr/shinnecock/US-Open-Brochure-2018.pdf

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