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Friday, October 31, 2014
Dept. of Transportation plans to make Hempstead Tpk. safer for pedestrians

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 New York State Department of Transportation began making improvements 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 timers 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 is safe for pedestrians 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.”

The improvements came after McDonald called in February for the first comprehensive engineering safety analysis of the roadway in its history. The analysis studied both short- and long-term ways to improve safety. The DOT focused on educating the public on pedestrian safety, in addition to physically improving the roadway. And this spring, the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board began a public education campaign focused on pedestrian safety.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) praised the DOT’s commitment to maintaining the safety of the roadway, which runs through much of his district, including Elmont and Franklin Square. “We must continue to be vigilant in improving pedestrian safety in this major, 16-mile thoroughfare that is used by so many motorists and pedestrians,” Martins said. “These projects, combined with motorists using caution and public education, will reduce accidents and make the turnpike safer, which is a goal the entire community shares.”

The safety initiatives announced in the second phase of the project will require further study, according to the DOT. Once the study is under way, construction of the medians and installation of the new traffic signals will begin as soon as possible.

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