BY RICH KNUTSON
I have found out something very interesting, almost taken aback by it actually. I had the opportunity to talk to a Suffolk County legislator.
The Portion Road widening project in Suffolk County came up. I asked him how does the County go about getting the go-ahead to do a project like that? He informed me that there is a study done to see if the roadway warrants it. Next, the County looks for public input. He informs me that after a lengthy process and after all the input is gathered, the project gets to "green light" to proceed.
I found all this information very interesting. I told him some of the local civic associations are against the widening. Their concerns are that it will bring more traffic to the area with increased speeds, more development on top of what is already there, and so on. He said he heard of these concerns, to which I was glad.
I then asked him if the local town (township) gets involved. This is where I was taken aback. He told me that the town is informed as an advisory position only. I said to him, "Isn't the town actively involved in the process?" He told me that the town doesn't express interest in what we do. I said, "You mean there is no coordination?" "No impact study done on the surrounding local roads that feed the County road?" He told me that something like that is not usually done. I asked, "Why not?" He couldn't come up with a good answer for me. I was amazed.
Then I started to think. Is this type of thinking done on ALL levels? We have a Federal highway (the LIE, I-495), numerous state highways (Routes 25, 347, 27, 106, 107, 25a, etc), county highways (County Roads 97, 19, 83, 104, etc), town roadways, and of course for those who live within these boundaries, village roadways. There seems to be no genuine effort on any government level to include other levels of government when it comes to roadwork and road construction. It is only when concerned citizens (ie, civic associations) get involved that it "wakes" up the other municipalities into looking how it affects them.
For our transportation network to be successful, whether it be car, bus, boat or train, it stands to reason that EVERYONE needs to know to what is going on. That means getting everyone involved. It means having a coordinated plan of development. With space becoming a premium and with steady growth, we can no longer afford the attitude of "let's just worry about us" mentality. If it means getting ALL of the civics together as one voice and saying, "Hold on. Now let's do this right". So much the better. I am interested in what, you, the person that has to put up with this, has to say about all this.
We are all in this together. We have only one Island with only so much space to put everything as well as preserve the beauty of it. If done correctly, we CAN do all the things that we want to do.
Don't forget to check out our car, train, bus and boat links that come with this page. As always I am here to inform and enlighten. There is more to come.
Rich Knutson is a born and bred Long Islander who understands the joys and frustration of getting around on Long Island. He is a 15+ year LIRR - LI Bus/Suffolk Transit commuter and is a member of a two-car family.