Noise from Audible Street Signals for Blind Too Loud, Southold Residents Say

Does the beeping of the audible traffic signal for the visually impaired shatter your quality of life in Southold?

There's a sound that's causing residents and business owners around Youngs Avenue and Route 25 in Southold to cry out in protest — the constant beeping of an audible street signal for the visually impaired.

Robert Maddalena, who lives on Youngs Avenue, brought a petition to the Southold town board Tuesday signed by his neighbors asking for help and guidance about what to do about the device, which he said sounds like a "supermarket scanner," — others compared the sound to the 70s video game Pong — that he said is destroying quality of life for those living near the signal, located across from the IGA and Silversmith's Corner.

The residents said while they are in favor of devices to help the visually impaired and blind, but would like one a little "torturous to the senses," Maddalena said.

"This is overkill," he added. "What will it be like in the warm weather, with the window open?"

Maddalena also asked how Southold was lucky enough to "receive such an honor," when no other audible aids that he knew of had been installed in neighboring hamlets such as Riverhead. "We support the blind community and would like to work together to find something that would have less of an impact on the public soundscape," he said.

Maddalena also read documentation from the National Federation of the Blind that said the organization maintains "buzzers and bird calls" on traffic signals are a disservice to the blind.

Ron Rothman, whose business is located near the signal, said the audible device presents "probably the biggest detriment to the quality of life in the area."

Rothman played a tape of the noise — to hear the sound, watch the Patch video here — and said the noise was unacceptable and not appropriate to the hamlet.

After measuring the sound with a decibel meter, Rothman said the noise was over 80 decibels; the town code prohibits music that loud he said. "This beeping is going on 24/7 in a quiet hamlet," he said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said perhaps the device had been installed incorrectly and that he would investigate.

Eileen Peters, public affairs officer for the New York State Department of Transportation, researched the issue and said the volume on the signal has been turned down. In addition, she added, such signals are only installed at the request of either an individual, organization, or group. 

Ted Sheckler February 27, 2014 at 08:24 AM
Give me a break everything these days are it's affecting my quality of life. Well guess what your affecting my quality of life. Put yourself in someone's shoes who is visually impaired and ask them if it helps them out. I don't hear people complaining about the sirens the local FDs have which I guarantee are way over the 80 decibel level. This day and age everybody complains about everything. It's just like the people who live on Mill lane in Peconic who wanted the no parking signs 3 years ago because of people parking on the side of the road that go to the beach and now those same people now want the town to reconsider that law. All I can say is welcome to the land of the CAVE PEOPLE (Citizens Against virtually Everything) in the Town of Southold.
Adele Cassone February 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM
If I'm not mistaken, I think we have one of those in greenport, on the corner of front and 3rd. It beeps when the light is ready to change, right? I don't live near there but having walked into town dozens of times, I don't think it's a big deal! I think it's shameful that people are saying a street signal changer thingy for the vision impaired, are saying it's destroying their quality of life. In return you get rid of it and someone blind gets hurt or killed at that corner, we'll you just took away their life but as long as you guys have your quality of life great again I guess you wouldn't think twice about it. On the other hand maybe Scott Russell is right about it being installed wrong, cause the one in greenport is not that loud.


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