Turnpike gets safety upgrades

DOT taking action


Many East Meadow High School students must cross Hempstead Turnpike — one of the deadliest roadways in Nassau County — on their way to school. In an effort to make their crossings safer, and to help make the roadway less dangerous for all pedestrians, the state’s Department of Transportation is making improvements.

Between January 2008 and December 2011, there were 326 motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians along Hempstead Turnpike, and 20 of those incidents were fatal. In March, the DOT began renovations along the 16-mile stretch of the road in Nassau County to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians alike.

On Sept. 17, the DOT announced a second wave of safety improvements, which will include the installation of raised medians, new traffic signals and the relocation of some NICE bus stops. The first phase of the project included the addition of 91 signalized intersections along the road, with electronic signs letting pedestrians know how much time they have to cross the street. Pedestrian walkways were also repainted and widened to make it clearer where it’s safe to cross.

Both phases are part of a $7 million effort by the DOT to increase pedestrian safety along Hempstead Turnpike over the past five years. “In cooperation with our local, state and federal partners, we analyzed the entire Hempstead Turnpike corridor this spring and developed a plan for enhancing pedestrian safety at dozens of locations,” DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “With much of that Phase I work completed or under way, we’re moving forward on additional improvements that require planning, design and — for some locations — construction. These initiatives are being carefully tailored to Hempstead Turnpike to improve safety for all of

its users.”

About 70 East Meadow High School students cross Hempstead Turnpike at Carman Avenue each morning, crossing guard Patricia Erath estimated. “It’s a very dangerous intersection,” said Erath, who has been a guard for four years and is stationed at the corner from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. “You definitely need a crossing guard here. There’s never a moment when there’s a break [from traffic].”

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