Jul 26, 2014

STUDY: Traffic, Pedestrian Safety Plague Smithtown's Future

Town of Smithtown's Draft Transportation Study finds problems with local roadways, offers suggested changes for the future.

STUDY: Traffic, Pedestrian Safety Plague Smithtown's Future

Smithtown residents frustrated by rush-hour traffic or worried about pedestrian safety could wind up facing their worst fears if the town doesn't take action, according to a recent study.

Town of Smithtown officials have found congestion, pedestrian safety, and fiscal and environmental sustainability are the town's biggest transportation issues, according the draft Transportation Study for the town's Comprehensive Master Plan update.

"Traffic volumes in Smithtown have grown approximately 1 to 2 percent per year. This equates to between 30 to 50 percent since the late 1970s," the study read.

The 85-page study, released in September 2012, takes a close look at Smithtown's 563 miles of roadway. It studies what roads are most heavily used and for what reasons, available mass transit, trucking routes, and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

The study confirms what many local drivers already suspect: roughly half of the town's limited access highways, like the Long Island Expressway or Sagtikos Parkway, and 30 percent of primary arterial roadways are congested during peak travel times. Primary arterial roadways include Route 347, Veterans Highway and Jericho Turnpike/Route 25.

Many of these roads are state or county owned, out of the hands of town officials. Construction projects, like the  Route 347 greenway project, aim to ease traffic by adding and expanding these highways.

The town's study suggests more creative ideas to solve the local transportation problems rather expanding or building new roadways.

"The Town is mostly developed, and the comprehensive plan should be based on the assumption that major changes in the transportation system may not be feasible...," the study said. "Therefore, the existing infrastructure will have to be tweaked to address problems."

Some suggested changes include increasing use of mass transit such as the Long Island Rail Road and Suffolk County buses, concentrating on building traffic-oriented developments near train stations and other hubs, and more traffic calming measures like speed humps and narrower roads to slow drivers and increase pedestrian safety.

Smithtown Main Street has received mostly positive reviews from Patch readers after the New York State Department of Transportation installed traffic calming measures of reducing westbound traffic to one lane and added left turning lanes in May 2012. New signal timers were also installed to allow pedestrians more time to cross the street.

These changes were only made after two fatal accidents, the death of 33-year-oldSeamus Byrne in March 2011 and 11-year-old Courtney Sipes in November 2011, brought the deadly roadway under intense scrutiny.

Patch will be taking a more in-depth look at transportation's study recommended changes over the upcoming weeks.

We'd like to ask you, our readers: What town roadways do you think desperately need traffic relief or improved safety? What areas should town officials consider changing first?

Tell us in the comments below.

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