There was a National Basketball Association championship on Friday, then a Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred horse racing on Saturday, and there could be the second leg of a Grand Slam in golf next week at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton. This week, local officials are optimistic their transportation plan will also be a success, enabling traffic to flow unencumbered through the town.
Measures to alleviate traffic congestion include a pedestrian footbridge over County Road 39, rerouted traffic, and increased Long Island Rail Road train service. There will also be two parking areas with shuttle buses to the event — one at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach to service visitors traveling from up-island, the other at the Hamptons Classic grounds in Bridgehampton to service travelers from out east.
The shuttles, which will be provided by Suffolk County, will take about 25 minutes to take passengers to and from the event. Officials have also made available an option to be dropped off and picked up from the tournament at the Montauk Highway entrance of Stony Brook Southampton College, but there will be no parking or staging at that location.
With an estimated 80 million people watching the event from 150 countries all over the world, County Executive Steve Bellone said “all eyes will be on Suffolk.”
“We have been working with all of our partners to make sure that we are ready, and on the eve of the U.S. Open championship, I can say with certainty that we are ready. We are excited, and we are looking forward to an incredible event this week,” said Bellone during a press conference at the golf club’s media center on Sunday morning.
Bellone explained safety is also a concern for the event, noting local law enforcement including the Suffolk County police and sheriffs’ departments, New York State, Metropolitan Transit Authority, State University of New York-Stony Brook, and Southampton Village police have been working over the past year with Southampton Town police, on safety measures to address all “plausible scenarios.”
Suffolk Emergency Medical Services, Department of Health Services, Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services, and the Department of Public Works will also be on hand at the event in case they are needed to assist.
To help move traffic along through the town during the Open, the speed limit will be reduced to 30 MPH along County Road 31, Old Riverhead Road, in Westhampton from Montauk to Sunrise Highways from 6 AM to 10 PM until June 19. Montauk Highway from Knoll and Tuckahoe roads in Shinnecock Hills will also be reduced to 35 MPH through June 19.
County and town officials have also enacted a number of road closures and roadway restrictions.
To allow the United States Golf Association to set up shop at the golf course, officials closed off Tuckahoe Road from County Road 39 to Sebonac Road May 29, then closed it off entirely to Montauk Highway on June 7, both measures that caused some snarls around Shinnecock Hills and Southampton. The road will be partially open from CR 39 to Montauk Highway on June 19, followed by the remainder on June 22.
Other restrictions for roadways near CR 39 include the closure of many shortcuts known to locals such as St. Andrews Road from CR 39 to the entrance of the Greek Orthodox Church to pedestrians and bicycles. Pedestrians and bicycles will not be allowed on CR 39 from St. Andrews Road West to St. Andrews Road. Instead officials are asking that they access the Open from Montauk Highway at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.
Hills Station Road will be one way from CR 39 south to Longview Road from 6 AM to 10 AM. Shrubland and Greenfield roads, as well as Tuckahoe Lane, will be right-turn only between 6 and 10 AM, and St. Andrews Road West will be right turn only between 6 AM and 10 PM. Other roadways closed altogether for the duration of the event include Knollwood, Country Club, Underhill, Overlook, and Terrace drives from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Long Island Rail Road president Philip Eng said the event will probably bring about 30,000 fans to the town, and there will be five to 10 extra trains running on the Montauk line during the event, terminating at the newly built temporary Shinnecock Hills station.
He said 2,000 customers a day are projected for Monday, June 11, and Tuesday, June 12, and he expects the number to grow continuously throughout the week to about 9,000 customers per day through Sunday, June 17.
“Like every other big event in the region, whether it was the Belmont Stakes we just had yesterday, a concert, or baseball game or basketball game, or hockey game, the Long Island Rail Road is simply just one of the best ways to get to and out of a venue if you want to avoid driving, which I would highly recommend,” he said. “Without mass transit, a critical component to the transportation network for this event, we might not be standing here today.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said there are more than 30 agencies the town has coordinated with to make sure its plans proceed smoothly.
“People worried about the traffic in 2004 and then after the event people were saying, ‘You know, actually, it was flowing better than normal.’ That’s how much was done to mitigate the traffic and we have learned some lessons from 2004, so this time, in 2018, it is going to be even better,” he said.
County Legislator Bridget Fleming, whose district includes the golf course, said that the preparing for the event is a big undertaking. Despite this, she said visitors will be in “very good hands.”
For a fully updated list of road closures and restrictions, visit www.townofsouthampton.org.