It’s time to address safety on the Southern State


For many years, the Southern State Parkway has been known as one of the most dangerous thoroughfares in Nassau County, with the 10-mile stretch between Exit 17, in Malverne, and Exit 32, in Farmingdale, even gaining the nickname “Blood Alley.”

Traffic congestion near areas such as the Southern State’s Eagle Avenue exit, in West Hempstead, has also been of concern to residents. Another issue that has arisen recently is the unkempt condition of the highway. From broken lighting to car parts and other debris, the Southern State has become something of an obstacle course, while several lights need fixing.

In recent years, there have been discussions among state officials about the possibility of introducing new technologies that could be used along the most dangerous sections of the road, which runs from the Cross Island Parkway, on the Queens-Nassau border, to the Sagtikos State Parkway, in Suffolk County. They are looking to collaborate with the Department of Transportation and law enforcement to make the infrastructure changes and identify the specific types of technology that can be used to reduce accidents. Although the DOT conducted a study on the parkway’s safety issues in March, not all of the results have been shared with legislators.

While it is encouraging to see that concerns about the parkway are being aired, it’s time to see some real action. The Herald has reported on the dangers of the Southern State many times. In the most notable accident in recent years, an eastbound commercial charter bus slammed into the Eagle Avenue overpass at Exit 18 in April 2018. Six people were seriously hurt and were rushed to area hospitals, and three dozen suffered minor injuries. At a height of just 7 feet 7 seven inches, the Eagle Avenue bridge has one of the lowest clearances of any structure on a Long Island parkway.

There have not been many changes to the parkway since it opened in 1927. The configuration of exit and entrance ramps, and their corresponding signage, has made the road one of the deadliest highways on Long Island. A 2016 study by the DOT found that in one five-year span, there were over 10,500 accidents on the Southern State, over 3,000 of which involved injury, and 32 were fatal.

It seems that the parkway’s conditions have only gotten worse. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another major accident to spark the push for immediate changes on an outdated and treacherous roadway.