Traffic in the Hamptons is time sensitive. Going east from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and west from 4 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. has become quite an ordeal. The initial expansion of “Highway 39” back around 2006-2007, in which the two-lane road was expanded to four and in some places six lanes, no longer is alleviating the traffic flow.
Experts say the idea of flipping lanes, so that during those torturous times there is an additional lane for the direction of the traffic, will only create terrible bottlenecks at various pressure points such as traffic lights.
The traffic problem has been growing for a few years. There was an anomaly of reduced traffic during the worst of the covid pandemic. Many folks give various reasons for the increase in traffic. They say larger numbers of folks are going to work in bigger vehicles or piggyback vehicles. Others point out there are more east end day trippers. Plus there have to be more folks commuting to their newly required second homes. Many may disagree on the exact cause, but no one can deny the problem is becoming a year-round situation and not just seasonal like in the past.
Use of back roads such as Shrubland Road is prohibited from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. This is to prevent that section of Tuckahoe from being infiltrated with traffic, especially when school is in season.
In a Southampton Town Board hearing a few weeks back Councilwoman Cynthia McNamara reportedly said she conducted a driving time test using her husband. The test consisted of she and her husband leaving their home in East Quogue to drive to Bridgehampton. She took the turn onto Shrubland Road, and other back roads, while her husband continued on County Road 39 (27 East) to Bridgehampton. Her trip took her 38 minutes, but for her husband, it was an hour-and-seven-minute ride.
Every morning those taking the drive “east” to go to work and then taking the ride home “west” can all tell of their private horror stories. Perhaps like that one day when it took hours.
Hopefully a solution can be configured to offer some relief to folks trying to get to work or get home. Unfortunately, public transportation does not fit the needs for the east end commuter. Nor does carpooling. In other areas with such problems, staggering hours for work to start and end was attempted. Those who work on other people’s homes or other such services jobs must be done in daylight for safety.
For a long time, officials in Southampton have wanted to change the road’s traffic light normal red and green to flashing yellow to maintain a better flow for commuters. Routes 27 and 39 are state and county roads with the state and county representatives not onboard. Now the town is trying it anyway.
To add insult to injury, the internet along the routes is spotty at best. Working via the phone in the car, besides being somewhat unsafe, is practically impossible. Some people have taken to listening to pre-recorded audio books and are at least getting some sort of positive result from the agony of the commuting traffic situation.