After Cutchogue’s deadly limo crash that took the lives of four young women, PSEG will begin work next week to install a traffic light at the intersection of Depot Lane and County Road 48.
“We are doing everything we can to get this project completed as soon as possible,” PSEG media rep Elizabeth Flagler said this week. “We fully expect to begin our portion of the construction work next week.”
Last week, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said traffic light could be coming by fall to the deadly intersection in Cutchogue where the limo crash took place work was in progress earlier this week on the first stages of the project.
According to workers at the intersection of Depot Lane and County Road 48, employed by Johnson Electrical Construction, work was ongoing but before the project could commence, PSEG would have to come in and install higher, larger poles to support the weight of the traffic signal, as well as higher wires.
Justin Meyers, spokesman for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, said that the project was proceeding as planned and had not been accelerated due to the tragic accident.
“It was really one of those completely coincidental situations,” he said. “The light is not being put in due to the accident and it’s not being accelerated because of it.”
Johnson Electrical was engaged in preliminary work that had to be done before PSEG could proceed, he said.
Meyers added, “Frankly, even if the light has been in place, it would not have prevented an accident such as that. This is a normal, three signal light that’s being installed so presumably, both drivers would have had a green light when that occurred. It’s a non factor in that particular, unfortunate case.”
No green directional arrow will be included for left turns when the light is installed, he said. Krupski said he’s received many calls, comments and concerns about the need for the green directional arrow, as well as suggestions about nixing U turns and other issues, and he’s been forwarding them all to the county’s department of public works for discussion. Krupski welcomes all suggestions from residents.
Krupski said the work was initially planned for fall because power would have to be shut off during the proceedings, and the goal was not to leave residents without air conditioning or refrigeration during the height of the summer.
The intersection, located at Depot Lane and Route 48, has long been a source of concern to residents.
After a neighbor reached out to department of public works in May, discussions began, Krupski said. The department of public works had actually begun the process of collecting traffic data a year ago to justify the new light, Krupski said; a formula must be followed.
“We are planning on putting a light there. It’s in the planning stages,” Krupski said.
In order to install the new light, higher, larger poles, to support the weight of the light, as well as higher wires, must be placed at the spot where currently, blinking red and yellow lights exist.
The new light was discussed last week at a committee meeting, Krupski said.
The legislator added that traffic lights, while a step in the right direction, do not solve all safety concerns, as motorists continue to ignore basic rules of the road.
Distracted driving, he said, with motorists, texting, talking on their phones, eating, smoking, drinking, applying makeup and even eating have made roads treacherous.
A rumble strip on Route 25 added last year has helped cars from drifting, Krupski said.
Southold Town Police Chie Martin Flatley, at the accident site, agreed. “This is what we’ve always been afraid of.”
The limo driver, he said, tried to make a U turn and head west on Route 48 when he was struck by a pickup. “It was a dangerous move,” he said.
Limos making such turns take up two to three lanes and pose a danger on area roads, Flatley said, one reason why the town has been cautioning against potential tragedy on Route 48 for years.
Steve Romeo, of Peconic, was charged with driving while intoxicated after the crash but later, toxicology results indicated that his his blood alcohol level was .066, less than the legal limit. The charges have not been downgraded, however, due to the ongoing investigation, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a press conference last week.
The limo driver was not charged; his blood was tested and no presence of alcohol or drugs was found, Spota said.