Anyone who spends any amount of time during the summer in a car trying to navigate from one end of the East End to the other — or even from one end of any local village to the other — knows that traffic is a nightmare.
Forget the eastbound trade parade backups that stretch beyond the Hampton Bays exits on Route 27 every morning or the stop-and-go traffic that marks the westbound commute each evening. Backups in and around villages and hamlet center during peak summer weekends are the topic of cocktail hour conversation and Facebook posts ad nauseum.
East End towns and villages have found an unlikely revenue bonanza in all the traffic. If you are lucky enough to find a parking space, you better not remain in it for a nanosecond too long or one of the many traffic control officers hired each summer, who seem to be in a perpetual competition to write more parking tickets than anyone else, will surely find you.
Unfortunately, those TCOs aren’t allowed to write tickets for moving violations (like the illegal mid-block U-turns that back up traffic in both directions), and when they direct traffic, their concentration on helping pedestrians cross the street often just adds to the problem.
While town and village police departments do a great job of showing up in force to help ease traffic tie-ups at special events like Fourth of July fireworks, their presence is sadly lacking when it comes to helping relieve routine bottlenecks that occur day in and day out.
It seems reasonable to believe that traffic would flow just a little better if officers were directed to pull over when they see a backup building at a given intersection and intervene by perhaps waving a dozen cars through a troublesome four-way stop.
A more comprehensive solution would be for local police departments to study traffic patterns and assign officers to dedicated traffic duty at certain chokepoints such as the Wainscott business district or downtown Bridgehampton, where it seems cars are always backed up as far as the eye can see.
Such steps won’t solve all the East End’s traffic woes, but pressing officers into such service during the height of the busy summer season might go along way toward reducing everyone’s stress levels.