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Stuck truck slows traffic in Sea Cliff

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A trucker traveling from Pennsylvania on Jan. 8 made a wrong turn on the Shore Road/Boulevard thoroughfare — which runs between Sea Cliff and Glen Cove — while on his way to the Webb Institute. When he hit the hairpin turn at the end of the road where Cliff Way and The Boulevard intersect, he at-tempted to maneuver the 18-wheeler through the narrow pass, but instead wedged into it, blocking traffic in both directions.

Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy said it took three and a half hours and two tow trucks to remove the truck. “The first tow truck wasn’t large enough,” he said. “We got a heavy-duty wrecker from Hicksville that lifted the trailer via chain and moved the rear six inches at a time until it was able to get around the corner. It was certainly an inconvenience.”

While no significant damage resulted from the incident, Kennedy said the trailer almost hit the seawall, a fire hydrant and the railings of a handicapped-accessible ramp in between the two roadways during its removal. “All things considered, we’re lucky,” he said.

Three traffic signs on the Glen Cove side of the thoroughfare indicate that trucks over four tons are not permitted on the road unless making a local delivery. Kennedy said the weight of the trucker’s cargo was more than 50,000 pounds, or 25 tons. The signs were commissioned by the Glen Cove Department of Public Works. A representative of the DPW said, “Even though it is a county road, the signs belong to us.”

While this is the first time such an incident has occurred, Kennedy said truckers who drive illegally on the road are more common than not. “If you have these large, five-axle vehicles constantly coming from Shore Road, [the drivers] assume that it’s OK to do it,” he said. “These trucks are overweight, and by law aren’t permitted on the road at all.”

Glen Cove Deputy Police Chief Chris Ortiz said, “We do have some larger trucks that utilize the roadways here in Glen Cove, so we have a motor carrier traffic safety unit that targets these enforcement issues.” The unit, he said, comprises a team of officers specially trained to enforce laws and regulations governing large semis.

Shore Road resident Lora Cusumano, echoing Kennedy’s assertion, said she sees at least four to six oversized trucks driving on the road each year. She said she was shocked to hear that a truck had gotten stuck at the end of The Boulevard.

“Most truck drivers end up backing all the way down our road when they get to the hairpin turn,” said Cusumano. “Once they get up to that spot, they realize there’s no way they can make it. I don’t know what possessed the truck driver to actually attempt that turn.”

She added that trucks attempting to reverse back down the road present an added safety issue. “If a truck is trying to back up, numerous people that don’t have patience while they’re driving try to cut around these vehicles,” she said. “They could hit into a pedestrian or another car.”

Last year Cusumano founded Shore Road Neighbors, a local group aimed at bringing safety to the thoroughfare. A recent petition from the group — which was shared with officials of Sea Cliff, Glen Cove and Nassau County — lists a series of improvements that could be made, including adding more signs that indicate overweight trucks are prohibited from driving on the road. “We should have these signs on Glen Cove Avenue to make it easier for truckers to read, so that even before they make the turn onto Shore Road they see that sign,” she said.

Cusumano also said she believes directional devices like GPS have caused more truckers to use the road as a shortcut. “A lot of truckers now use GPS, and [Shore Road] does come up as a way to get to the Long Island Expressway” from Glen Cove, she said.

Ortiz agreed. “Usually GPS will steer them clear of overweight roads and low bridges, but when their software is out of date, truckers tend to get lost and go the wrong way,” he said.

Kennedy said he believes the cause of the trouble is a lack of law enforcement. “There needs to be additional police enforcement, and it has to come from the City of Glen Cove,” he said. “The signs are within their jurisdiction. These trucks are not coming down from the Sea Cliff side.”

Cusumano said the petition also requests increased enforcement from the Nassau County and Glen Cove police departments to remedy the truck problem. “We’ve asked the police to do more patrols, and part of that is to ticket overweight vehicles if they’re illegally on our streets.” Cusumano plans to meet with Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman and Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke in the coming months to review the group’s petition.