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Smithtown official: No plans to close Montclair Avenue over traffic concerns

A car drives along Montclair Ave. south of

A car drives along Montclair Ave. south of Rutherford St. in St. James on Thursday, July 24, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A residential street in St. James that neighbors want closed to cut down on speeding vehicles and congestion will remain open after a study showed traffic shifts to adjoining roads.

Smithtown town officials won't permanently close Montclair Avenue between Jericho Turnpike (Route 25) and Rutherford Street, which sees more than 1,000 vehicles a day. This past spring, from March 5 to May 9, the traffic safety department installed counting devices that also analyze traffic flow patterns and speeds. Later in May, officials closed off a swath of Montclair for 11 days to assess impacts of creating a cul-de-sac.

Town Traffic Safety Director Mitchell Crowley said the street closure showed about 800 cars on Montclair were displaced to neighboring Arlington Avenue, south of Rutherford Street, increasing traffic by 36 percent.

Montclair and Arlington avenues are considered "cut-through streets," because they provide north-south passage to and from the residential community to Route 25, he said.

"Montclair Avenue was designed . . . to carry all through traffic and local traffic," Crowley told the town board at a special meeting last month. "I wouldn't recommend the closure."

Neighbors have complained that residential streets are clogged with commercial trucks heading to the town's highway yard and customers from car dealerships along Route 25 test-driving vehicles.

Kevin Sconzo, 46, who lives on Montclair Avenue, said he has seen cars burn rubber on the street where people jog and walk their dogs.

"It's only a matter of time before somebody gets killed there," he said.

The traffic study found that about 1,600 vehicles accessed Montclair Avenue daily before the temporary road closure, Crowley said, adding that typical traffic volumes on comparable streets average 1,500 vehicles a day.

Some traffic patterns were impacted by the closure. Arlington Avenue north of Rutherford Street increased from 2,100 to about 3,000 vehicles daily, while Rutherford decreased from 1,300 to 1,000 vehicles daily during the closure, Crowley said.

Data also showed 85 percent of traffic traveling Arlington, Montclair and Jefferson avenues exceeded the 30 mph speed limit -- the majority going about 40 mph, he added.

"We're having speeding issues on many roads within the Town of Smithtown," Crowley said. "It's not abnormal at all."

Robert DeMoustes, a Montclair resident, said he would like to see the street become one-way only to keep out traffic from Jericho Turnpike.

"We have a lot of young families with young children who are all starting to grow up and they'll be playing in the streets," he said. "We need to have corrective measures."

Councilman Edward Wehrheim said the town must have further discussions on traffic calming, adding that Crowley recently submitted diagrams for installing a chicane -- a road design that creates extra turns.

"Those folks down there deserve some type of help with the problems that they're having," Wehrheim said.


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