“The signals have been retimed so if [cars] go at the speed limit, you’ll keep getting green lights as you go down the turnpike,” said Post. “But if you go faster than the speed limit, you’re going to hit red lights.”
Next month, she said, more work is expected to begin along the turnpike, including the addition of No Turn on Red signs at 142 locations, five new crosswalks, three new traffic signals and the relocation of six bus stops.
The changes are being made as a result of a study conducted by the DOT from January 2008 to December 2011. The project, which cost an estimated $1 million, was spearheaded by DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald, with the input of various state agencies, local and state elected officials, the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board and the Nassau County Police Department. “It was a wide-ranging effort, it was a comprehensive effort, and there was significant input from folks on Long Island,” said Post.
Hempstead Turnpike stretches from the Nassau-Queens border in the Town of Hempstead to the Nassau-Suffolk County border in the Town of Oyster Bay. Post said that the work would take place along all 16 miles of the road, and would not be exclusive to any municipality — with the exception of the median fencing in East Meadow.
“We did this comprehensive look at the traffic safety statistics along the entire corridor, and this spot was one where it was determined that we could take additional steps to help ensure that pedestrians are crossing more safely,” she said.
Residents have further concerns
On the evening of Jan. 1, a fire erupted at a Spice and Curry Halal Meat store, on the south side of Hempstead Turnpike — where the fence is being installed. The fire spread to two adjoining stores, Wall St. Gold and Lewis Wine and Spirits. It took approximately 90 minutes for East Meadow Fire Department volunteers to subdue the flames.
Nikiel, who witnessed the fire, said, “The firemen had apparatus on both sides of Hempstead Turnpike,” including a fire truck on the median. “It was a bad fire, and they needed the room to fight it effectively,” added Nikiel, a retired Nassau County police officer.