Traffic Calming Project for Holbrook Road

On July 28, 2011, members of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization attended a Public Information Meeting hosted by the Town of Brookhaven at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach.
The Town of Brookhaven is proposing improvements to Holbrook Road, between Portion Road and Middle Country Road, to “calm traffic.” Although the posted speed limit on that stretch of road is marked at 30 mph, in reality, most vehicles travel at a much higher speed as they are unencumbered by stop signs, traffic lights, and the design of the road. Local residents have complained to the Town of Brookhaven and the Suffolk County Police Department to “do something” about speeding vehicles on Holbrook Road. It is dangerous for pedestrians and bicycle riders to share the road with motor vehicles in its current state, and it is often treacherous pulling out of driveways and side streets onto the road.

The main features of the project include:
• Installation of curbs and sidewalks.
• Drainage improvements.
• Curb ramps and improvements to existing sidewalks to meet required guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Dedicated bicycle lanes.

The project would be primarily federally funded and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation; it qualifies for federal funds as its objective is to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. The project also strives to improve the aesthetic character of the area.

At the Public Information Meeting, civic members viewed exhibits of the proposed design concept and questioned town officials on details. Our concerns were mainly related to how new sidewalks and curbs would impact the current positive aesthetics of the road. It is tree-lined and rural in nature. Past sidewalk projects in the town have often involved clear-cutting of many trees and eminent domain (public taking of private property.) Town officials have assured us that the project cost does not involve any funds for the taking of property – all improvements will be constructed within the town right-of-way. In addition, the town’s plan does not include the loss of many trees. Officials understand that trees provide traffic-calming benefits in their own right and fewer trees along the road would be counter-productive to the purpose of the project. We also understand that the travel lanes will be reduced in width to restrict speeding.

In the end, if implemented properly, this project will achieve its goals, and also connect Holbrook Road to Portion Road via new sidewalks and bike lanes, encouraging residents to leave their cars behind for short trips and recreational activities.

The town’s Traffic Safety Division promised to keep the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization updated on details of the project as they incorporate feedback from the Public Information Meeting and move forward. We will share information with our members as we receive it, along with an expected start date of construction.