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Widen Walt Whitman Road bridge near Canon headquarters, study recommends

A study of traffic near the Melville site of Canon USA Inc. recommends widening the Walt Whitman Road bridge over the Long Island Expressway.

The study recommends widening the bridge from three to five lanes with shoulders. The bridge has one southbound and two northbound travel lanes with no shoulders.

The study, which began last spring, evaluated conditions near the 52-acre Canon campus, which opened in February 2013 at Walt Whitman Road and the LIE's south service road.

"This now is our basic guide to present to the state, the DOT and the governor's office," Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "This will support our position that that bridge needs to be widened, that it has a powerful effect on the entire traffic area."

Petrone said if approved, he would expect the state to fund the bridge, possibly with federal grants. The complex had drawn complaints from homeowners about congestion and other quality-of-life issues since it opened. Town officials greenlighted another traffic study last winter because the previous one was undertaken as part of the Canon approval process and was last updated in 2009.

The latest study -- for which Canon paid $59,980 -- was done by Babylon-based consultant Greenman-Pedersen Inc. Other recommendations to ease congestion include changing the timing of some traffic signals.

It also found overall traffic growth was 10 percent less than expected in the morning peak hours and 14 percent less in the evening peak. It also found Canon's presence generated 13 percent fewer than expected trips for the morning rush and 29 percent fewer for the evening peak. Canon growth to full employment is expected to happen in 2020.

"Widening the bridge is desperately needed," said Alissa Sue Taff, president of the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow, which represents about 2,000 homes in the Huntington and Melville area.

Petrone said he will also seek input from businesses that are looking to expand or create businesses in the area.

But Taff said no other businesses or expansions should be greenlighted until the bridge is widened.

"It's not only a bottleneck of traffic, but it's a dangerous situation for emergency vehicles for the business community and very much for the residential community along Walt Whitman Road," Taff said. "We're choking."

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