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Greenport fed up with ferry jams, officials looking for solution to traffic problem

JULIE LANE PHOTO A common sight, especially in the summer months, of traffic backed up in Greenport leading to North Ferry boats.
JULIE LANE PHOTO A common sight, especially in the summer months, of traffic backed up in Greenport leading to North Ferry boats.

Upset over congestion caused by the North Ferry, Greenport Village residents are calling for changes to be made to decrease the amount of traffic created by those traveling to Shelter Island.

At Monday’s Southold Town Transportation Commission meeting, Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said residents have voiced frustrations to her about multiple problems created by ferry traffic and that the matter has now become a safety issue.

“What has happened is the East End of Long Island has become a destination,” she said. “So, in our success story we now have the poor village residents, which is not fair to them. We have to patch roads, we have to do a lot of work and it’s not benefiting us.”

Ms. Phillips said people driving to Greenport to take the ferry aren’t stopping to appreciate all the village has to offer. And the cars are adding wear and tear to local roads.

“We do get some benefit in the summertime because some people stop, but I’ll be honest with you — I think if we had someone down there with a survey asking, ‘Did you stop in the village anywhere?’ [People would say] ‘No, it’s run for the ferry.’ ”
Representatives from North Ferry didn’t attend Monday’s meeting.

One way the transportation commission is considering alleviating the congestion problem is to contact GPS companies, such as Google Maps, about changing the route that devices use to send people to the ferry.

Currently, Google Maps directs vehicles down Third Street. The Transportation Commission suggested that traffic heading for the ferry use Sixth Street instead.

North Ferry tried to alleviate the Third Street problem in June when it created a cone barrier from the center of Wiggins Street to the corner of Third Street, attempting to block vehicles trying to cut the line. The cones were placed during morning rush hours and Friday afternoons, when traffic to the Island is especially heavy.

But Ms. Phillips and Village of Greenport Administrative Assistant Derryl Baumer said that isn’t enough to fix the growing problem.

“I just, at this point, think that North Ferry has got to start working with us,” Ms. Phillips said. “They need to start coming up to the plate.”

Mr. Baumer said the current road situation creates a collection point he described as a “fishbowl of an area” near the boats, where people sometimes disobey traffic control measures in order to quickly escape the congestion.

Another problem is that some roads are owned by the village, some are owned by the state and others are owned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Ms. Phillips said.

Commission members also said the village needs to work with North Ferry, Shelter Island and South Fork officials in order to fix the traffic issue, since vehicles are traveling between all three locations.

The commission asked Ms. Phillips and Mr. Baumer to return to the January 25 general meeting with an agenda detailing the problems with ferry traffic, as well as potential solutions.