Image: Google Earth

Another traffic light is in the works for western Route 58 — this one at the western entrance to the Hilton Garden Inn hotel.

Hotel owner Lee Browning told the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday he sought to create a signalized intersection at the entrance when he first submitted his original site plan application, but the idea was rejected by the town.

Browning said he has watched with dismay and fear as vehicles make an illegal U-turn from the eastbound land of Route 58 to access his hotel property. Even stretch limousines attempt to make the turn and, with the volume and speed of westbound traffic, it’s downright dangerous.

After the tragic limo crash in Cutchogue in 2015, when a stretch limousine was slammed by an oncoming vehicle as it attempted to make a U-turn at a Route 48 intersection, killing four young women passengers, Browning said he knew he had to pitch the idea of a new signalized intersection again.

“I saw the potential for the same thing happening here,” Browning said during a public hearing on his application to amend his site plan.

“You exit at 73,” he said, referring to the L.I. Expressway terminus, “you pass the guardrail, you make an illegal U-turn. Between that and the speedway gas station, it’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

“On Sunday evening, stand in front of our property and see what the traffic is. It’s horrendous and it’s fast — they see that expressway sign and they fly,” Browning said.

Browning will construct a dedicated left turn lane on the eastbound portion of the divided highway, his engineer, Steve Eisenberg of McLean Associates, said.

The traffic signal will have a left-turn arrow, however; county traffic engineers nixed the idea, said Riverhead planner Karin Gluth.

Guests exiting the Hilton Garden Inn and Residence Inn hotels — both developed by Browning on the same parcel — will be able to turn east onto Route 58 at the light. Currently, people who want to head east from the hotel parking lot have to turn right and drive west to a turnaround about a mile up the road.

People coming to the hotel from points west — including from either Exit 73 or Exit 72 of the L.I. Expressway, have to pull into a parking lot on either side of Route 58 in order to re-enter the roadway westbound.

The planning board did not make a decision on the application.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.