Peak traffic season is upon us and Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller met with the town board today to discuss plans for keeping traffic flowing as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.
The Greenport Maritime Festival is coming up this weekend and the event always draws thousands to the North Fork village, mostly by cars traveling through Riverhead.
“Traffic will be heavy this weekend,” Hegermiller said.
Riverhead Police will deploy a 10-person traffic detail this weekend, the chief said. The special detail includes a sergeant and nine traffic control officers, he said. Five of the TCOs will be stationed at Harbes Farms on Sound Avenue, where attractions like hayrides, corn mazes and U-pick pumpkin fields draw large crowds, causing traffic snarls. Four TCOs will be posted at other locations in the eastern part of town, the chief said. In addition, some patrol sectors are being shifted slightly to provide better coverage in the easternmost sector.
Hegermiller said the department is ready to implement a plan to divert westbound traffic south on Herricks Lane to Main Road, as needed to prevent traffic from backing up Sound Avenue. That will allow eastbound traffic looking to turn left into Harbes’ parking fields to do so without a wait, the chief said. Vehicles waiting to make that left off the narrow two-lane road cause eastbound traffic to back up, often for a great distance.
The town is getting additional electronic message signs from the county, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said.
Hegermiller said traffic and map apps like Waze continue to influence how traffic moves on North Fork roads and there is nothing officials have been able to do about it. As a result, traffic has found its way to local roads like Edgar Avenue, Peconic Bay Boulevard and Sound Shore Road.
“The next few weeks are the peak time,” Hegermiller said. Traffic begins to thin out some after Columbus Day, with a sharper fall-off after Halloween.
Hegermiller said he plans to meet with Harbes Farms to discuss again connecting the farm’s two parking fields and using only one means of ingress and egress onto Sound Avenue.
Councilman Tim Hubbard noted that Harbes Farms helps fund the extra traffic control officers posted near its farm.
The supervisor said she thought the Long Island Railroad is planning to run extra trains to Greenport for the Maritime Festival. But a spokesperson for the LIRR said no extra service had been scheduled.
“This event is not normally one that requires extra service,” the spokesperson said.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town is indebted to union Local 1298 for providing training for the town’s traffic control officers, which she said was extremely useful. Hegermiller agreed. The town has added TCOs to its roster to help cover the fall traffic crunch and the training provided by the union was very helpful, he said.
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