Two accidents involving pedestrians in recent months at a Southern State Parkway exit have prompted calls for drastic changes to the design of the interchange.
State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) wrote to the state Department of Transportation asking for safety improvements at Exit 13, which serves Central Avenue and Linden Boulevard. “I realize that intersection was an accident waiting to happen,” Solages told the Herald, “and unfortunately, it did happen.”
On the evening of Dec. 3, 14-year-old Mohamed Tarek, a student at Elmont High School, was struck by a car driven by an unlicensed driver at the eastbound entrance ramp. Police said that the driver was attempting to enter the eastbound lanes of the parkway from North Central Avenue.
Since the accident, Tarek has remained hospitalized in critical condition. He has undergone six brain surgeries over the past three months, and is out of a coma but is nonresponsive. “Basically, his life has changed forever,” Solages said. “It really drove me to start fighting for a total redesign of that area. It’s not safe for pedestrians and it’s not safe for vehicles as well.”
On Jan. 29, just before midnight, 28-year-old Danalee Daley was struck at the same location in a hit-and-run accident. She was taken to the hospital and treated for head trauma, and was also left in critical condition.
In response, the State Department of Transportation, which maintains the parkway, has agreed that it will conduct a study of Exit 13. “Safety is NYSDOT’s top priority, and we are committed to maintaining safe roadways for all users,” said spokesman Beau Duffy. “NYSDOT will conduct a safety study of the intersection. We have also requested detailed information from the police agencies about the two most recent pedestrian accidents, so we can better understand all of the circumstances.”
At Exit 13, the Southern State separates North Valley Stream and Elmont. Many students who live south of the parkway attend Elmont High School, which is about a half-mile to the north. Solages said that there is extensive pedestrian traffic in the area at about 3 p.m. on school days, and also on Friday afternoons, when a nearby mosque holds services.