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Running late: Long lines at North Ferry continue

JULIE LANE PHOTO Traffic on Wiggns Street waiting to board North Ferry in Greenport,
JULIE LANE PHOTO Traffic on Wiggns Street waiting to board North Ferry in Greenport,

It will still take another week to 10 days until long North Ferry lines — and the waiting time for motorists — return to some kind of normalcy, according to Board of Education President and North Ferry mechanic Thomas Graffagnino.

Teacher Janine Mahoney at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting said teachers from the North Fork are starting at shortly after 6 a.m. and are still unable to get to school on time because of long lines that have persisted for the past couple of weeks. Ms. Mahoney said she fears some will decide they can’t continue to teach on the Island if the situation doesn’t change.

Mr. Graffagnino said boats had to be repainted and the last large boat should be in service within a week to 10 days, relieving much of the congestion.

Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) General Manager Stella Lagudis told the Reporter last week long lines is caused by a “confluence of circumstances,” most of which are not directly related to North Ferry’s operations.

HPOC owns the ferry company.

One of the North Ferry’s three large boats is being serviced, Ms. Lagudis said. The two small boats carry only about 11 vehicles each and the smaller boats are older, she said.

But she said the other factors are:
• South Fork traffic tie ups that prompt many to approach the Hamptons by taking North Ferry and cutting across Shelter Island
• A lot of rain this spring resulted in workers headed to project sites on the Island or the Hamptons have had fewer days to travel
• Early morning fog some days has slowed down the typical 10-minute crossing
• Major paving of roads on the Island results in more large trucks coming over from the North Fork with materials and workers to address that work.

For the past several weeks, North Ferry has stationed a worker at the intersection of Wiggins and Third streets in Greenport to stop drivers from cutting into the ferry line from Third Street.

Traffic is supposed to be routed along Wiggins Street from Sixth Street.

But in recent days, the line that is supposed to end at Wiggins and Sixth streets has backed up to Seventh and Wiggins streets.

North Ferry is contemplating the purchasing of a new large ferry, Ms. Lagudis said, adding that planning is “in the embryonic stage.”

HPOC has to determine what boat is best for its needs, how to finance it, what design it will have and ultimately who will build it she said.

Whether North Ferry will look for a rate hike to help finance a new boat, no one is saying. But any rate hike would have to be approved by the Suffolk County Legislature.