AARP Forum Promotes Roundabouts on Main Street

Numerous locals switch from opposed to in favor of roundabouts by the meeting's end.

Modern roundabouts in Smithtown could be a viable option to promote pedestrian safety and stimulate Main Street economy, according to several politicians and traffic experts during Friday’s open forum hosted by AARP. 

During the two forum sessions held Friday at the , the final report from , was discussed with an emphasis on his suggested use of the modern roundabout.

Burden's report stated that the use of modern roundabouts would "allow motorists to stay in motion and therefore pass through the corridor in reduced time" allowing for less delays. He also states roundabouts would improve pedestrian crossing on Main Street, produce less noise and reduce pollution.

William Stoner, associate state director for livable communities at AARP, asked the audience to hold up the red, yellow or green piece of paper in the air for who was not in favor, who was unsure and who was in favor of the modern roundabout idea for Smithtown.

To start the meeting much of the audience held up the red paper indicating they were not in favor of the roundabout and the yellow paper indicating they were unsure. At the end of the presentation, however, there were far more yellow and green sheets of paper raised, indicating they were interested in hearing more or in favor of the modern roundabout idea.

Stoner referred to the red sheets changing to yellow and the yellow sheets turning to green at the end of the meeting as “good news.”

“Through this forum the focus was to educate people,” Stoner said. “They understood that roundabouts aren’t something to be afraid of, it could work for Smithtown and it could dramatically improve the safety in Smithtown and hopefully the economy." 

Audience member Greg Suhr Sr. of Kings Park, who spoke during the presentation, said after that he is absolutely in favor of roundabouts and travels Main Street roughly four or five times a day. Suhr said he is a fan of jughandles, a ramp or portion of road that forces traffic to only make left turns at certain intersections, such as the ones he would encounter while driving in sections of New Jersey, but roundabouts are a quality alternative.

Suhr, who does patient transporting for doctors and maintenance work during the day, said roundabouts would work in Smithtown if the public were educated on how to use them.

“The public needs to be educated how to use these lanes. Once you know how to use them it will smooth everything out,” he said.

Also backing the installation of modern roundabouts was Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R- St. James.

“I am a very big fan, I do believe that they work, I’ve done some homework on it … if you look for solutions inside the box they’re gone, they’re not there,” he said. “I believe in it, I want to talk about it, I want to help people understand it." 

Fitzpatrick said the solution to Main Street and the installation of modern roundabouts sooner than later needs to start from the community and work its way up to the New York State Department of Transportation.

“I think it could be very realistic if the community gets behind it,” he said. “Top down, people will push back. Bottom up? Inform them, show them, educate them and build it that way then I think it could happen more quickly than people realize.” 

Burden’s final report offered five different locations along Main Street where a modern roundabout could work, including Route 111 at Route 25A, Landing Avenue at Miller Place, Lawrence Avenue, Maple Avenue and New York Avenue at Redwood Lane. While five locations were provided, not all five were suggested for implementation, and numerous speakers at the meeting stated the roundabouts work best in pairs.

The report also states an “inner circulation road” would divert traffic from and decrease the number of cars traveling on a more shopper and pedestrian friendly Main Street and facilitate a possible removal of two lanes from the road. The inner circulation road suggested would run from New York Avenue east along Ma Bell Lane to Maple Avenue, and after crossing Maple it would travel through a parking lot and then from Percy Avenue to Lawrence Avenue. It would then go north on Lawrence to the back of the stores on Main Street. 

Burden’s report concludes that the DOT proposal to remove one lane and not replace the signals with roundabouts would cause delays and not address speed and the ability for pedestrians to cross Main Street.

Following the meeting Stoner said roundabouts would provide the significant change Main Street needs. 

“There are other short term and long term options that are available but we feel after all these years and just most recently with the continued pedestrian fatalities and collisions that are happening and the Main Street vacancies – 36 vacant Main Street businesses – we’ve got to do something significant,” he said. “We believe that roundabouts is that solution.”

UncommonSense March 28, 2012 at 02:02 AM
@Sara, Yes Sara you are correct, I have no training, education or experience in traffic planning. what I do have is some common sense and the ability to logically and objectively analyze a situation with out letting my emotions and wishful thinking cloud my judgement. The traffic circle that is installed in Huntington is on Gerard Street. This is a side street north of 25a. it's in the middle of nowhere between some parking lots, an apartment complex and a post office. It's not on the main 25a artery. it's not part of New York Avenue. it's not on route 110. In other words it's no where near the main traffic that passes through Huntington each day. with that said here is a link to an article submitted by a Huntington Village resident complaining about the traffic circle and calling for it's removal. http://villagetattler.com/2010/04/03/morning-driving-through-the-roundabout/ I lived in Huntington Village on Fairview Street right off of New York Avenue back when I was in my twenties. It's a great town. fun, walkable, vibrant and prosperous. I would love nothing more than to be able to say the same things about Smithtown Main street. I can list a dozen things that help Huntington Village to be such a success, but unfortunately the traffic circle isn't one of them. There are no quick fixes. Only a well thought out, detailed plan that looks at the situation as a whole will begin to address the issues here. Huntington style traffic circles on Main Street are not the answer.
Joe Smith March 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM
What was in Pittsfield Mass was a rotary not a roundabout. It operates at higher speeds and is not being considered for Smithtown.
UncommonSense March 29, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I understand all of the proposed safety benefits of a modern roundabout and I agree with them in theory or where they are appropriate. My concern is that other than possibly at route 111, and on Edgewood at Landing and River Road, they are not needed on main street it's self. The problem on main street has two main components. One is speed, which can be reduced with properly timed red lights and a single lane going west (with a single lane the prudent driver sets the pace). The second is all of the various turns across traffic with out proper turning lanes. The issues in town are all related to the turning. Even the speeding is related to this. Stopped cars in the left lane create a dangerous situation for all the other traffic. The roundabouts are supposed to keep traffic flowing at a steady pace. In our case we need to stop traffic to let cars make the lefts from a safe, unencumbered turning lane, and then let traffic continue on out to 25a/ 25 at the east end. Also, we need to stop traffic to let pedestrians cross at crosswalks. you can not put a roundabout at every left turn across traffic on main street. It simply will not work. The dot plan of a modified road diet with properly timed red lights to slow traffic is the right solution to address our particular problem. in addition Edgewood, like it or not, is a conduit to 25a. The issues on that road must be addressed in order to keep cars that would otherwise use it off of Main Street. We need a comprehensive solution.
Jill in Nesconset April 01, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Has anyone gone out to Riverhead (CR58)and used their traffic circle? Does Anyone know what their accident rate is? Everytime I've been out there it seems there is always an accident.
Nancy VanTwistern June 10, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Someone mentioned 'stay in motion' going through a roundabout...what bull.... too, too many drivers do no heed the 'yield' signs!!!


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