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Speonk-to-Montauk train planned for 2019 to help ease congestion

Morning and afternoon trains could begin running between

Morning and afternoon trains could begin running between Speonk and Montauk in 2019. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

A commuter train shuttling workers across the South Fork will be operational by spring 2019, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Wednesday during his inauguration speech at town hall.

Two additional morning and afternoon LIRR trains would run between Speonk and Montauk, though a schedule has not been set for the plan, Schneiderman said during remarks made shortly after taking the oath for his second two-year term. He said the service could begin as early as the fall.

“It will reduce the traffic on the road and allow people an affordable way to get to work on time,” he said.

A Long Island Rail Road spokeswoman confirmed that the new service could start in 2019.

Southampton and East Hampton town officials have said that car and truck traffic has worsened in recent years with the growing “trade parade” of carpenters, landscapers and other workers during the morning and evening commutes. Officials have tried to address the issue with previous efforts.

A South Fork commuter shuttle, dubbed the South Fork Commuter Connection, operated in 2007 and 2008 when County Road 39, the main thoroughfare in the Hamptons, underwent repair. Reviving the initiative was first announced by Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) in January 2017.

Thiele hopes to expand the program after its initial rollout, he said, and Schneiderman said riders would pay very little for fares. The supervisor added that both towns, perhaps with the help of state funds, would provide bus transportation from the train stations.

“The town is going to play a role in the last mile, getting people from train stations to large employment centers,” Schneiderman said.

Alleviating congestion is a concern for many Southampton Town residents.

“The traffic in the morning is outrageous,” said Irene Tully, a retired elementary school teacher and Hampton Bays resident who attended Wednesday’s ceremony. She noted that if she was still working it would be impossible to predict how long it would take her to get from her home to the Springs School in East Hampton where she worked.

Besides transportation, Schneiderman touched on several other issues he hopes to tackle during his second term, including an overhaul of the town’s comprehensive plan, hosting community forums to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic and loosening short-term rental restrictions during events like the upcoming U.S. Open golf tournament.

Incumbent Democrat town board member Julie Lofstad and newcomer Tommy John Schiavoni, also a Democrat, were sworn in on Wednesday.

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