According to Lattingtown Mayor Robert Fagiola, reconfiguring Bayville Road from four lanes to two would only add an additional 24 seconds for those wishing to leave or enter Bayville. And it would make the road safer, he said, reason enough for the minimal inconvenience. The idea, which has been knocking around for 20 years, is being considered once again.
The roadway, a major artery that travels north and south is congested because it is one of two of Bayville’s access roads. But although the road connects to the village at Bayville Avenue, it isn’t located in Bayville. The 1.2 mile of roadway is in the hamlet of Locust Valley on one side and on the other, it is in the Village of Lattingtown. Forty-two driveways exit onto Bayville Road on the Lattingtown side and there are entrances to 10 village side roads.
Complaints of speeding and accidents on the county owned road led Lattingtown to lower the 40 mph speed limit to 30 mph in August, keeping Bayville Road consistent with the other roads in Lattingtown and the surrounding villages. But Fagiola said that more needs to be done. Restriping the road to two lanes, with a third lane for left turns would benefit everyone, he said.
Residents and members of the village government in Bayville do not support this change. “It will make getting out of Bayville more difficult and residents are unanimously against it,” said David Wright, the deputy mayor of Bayville. “It will restrict our ability to evacuate, and if there is a disabled vehicle there will be no way around it.”
There is also a concern, he said, that emergency vehicles will not have easy access to Bayville.
The deficiencies of the road were clear in the county’s 1999 traffic study, Fagiola said. Striped as a four-lane road in the 1930s, the outer lanes are 9 feet wide and the two inner lanes are 10 feet wide which is not compliant with New York State Department of Transportation guidelines, Fagiola said. The DOT require lanes to be 12 feet wide. Additionally, he said, a four-foot hard shoulder is mandatory. There is no shoulder on Bayville Road, just trees and mud.
The study recommended that the road be restriped as three lanes, which Fagiola would like to see now. The county agreed to make the change in 2002 but, Fagiola said, representatives from Bayville stated their concerns that emergency access would be compromised and evacuation hampered. That caused the county to reconsider, and the road was never reconfigured.
“The road is substandard and dangerous,” Fagiola insisted. “When people make a left turn there is no turn lane. Drivers who are stopped waiting to turn are in danger of being hit in the rear.”
Which is what happened to a driver as recently as Oct. 6, he added.
Wright said that the decrease in the speed limit is sufficient. “The residents with driveways on Bayville Road have said it’s easier to get out of their driveways with the reduced speed,” he said. “Everyone is in favor of safety. The question is how do we get there without ruining it for everyone else.”
Bayville Mayor Bob De Natale would like to see more enforcement by police and perhaps a small change in the speed limit. “I think a fair speed limit should be 35 mph but enforced,” he said. “It really isn’t now.”
Lattingtown had its own traffic study done in 2018 that Fagiola said agrees with the county’s findings in its 1999 study. Lattingtown has put in a request with the county to reconfigure the road but was told that the county needs to do its own traffic study, Fagiola said. “They told us that a year ago and haven’t started it yet,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s a dollar’s issue but the county should be taken to task for a problem they admitted was a problem in its 2002 letter.”
De Natale sent a letter to County Executive Laura Curran on Oct. 18 stating the villages’ objection to modifying Bayville Road. The change would have “grave impacts to the over 7,000 residents,” he wrote, and then reminded Curran that Bayville is located between the Long Island Sound and Oyster Bay Harbor with only two means to exit, of which Bayville Road is one. And he added that because Bayville tends to flood even when there is a moderate storm, if an evacuation were necessary “fewer lanes on the west end of the village will lead to tragedy.”
De Natale said he understands Lattingtown’s wish to make the road safer for those living on Bayville Road but that the danger to people living in Bayville outweighed these concerns.
Curran responded in an Oct. 28 letter assuring De Natale that the county’s traffic study will address the village’s concerns and that “no modifications will be explored before input from the village is considered.”