The deaths of Anthony D’Alessandro and Peter Thearle, both of Levittown, in June 2011 and on April 4, respectively, have prompted a public outcry to combat the issues pedestrians face on and around Hempstead Turnpike.
Local residents expressed worries about the safety of Hempstead Turnpike, and other area roadways, at Wednesday evening’s Merrick Avenue Civic Association meeting.
"Safety issues are not being addressed on our roadways," Merrick Avenue Civic Association President Pat Maher said.
New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) representatives from the New York City region filled in for their counterparts from the NYS DOT Long Island Region during the meeting at the East Meadow Public Library. Though unable to answer any intersection or road specific questions due to their focus on New York City, the representatives presented a plan on “smart growth” – which is a statewide development initiative – and listened to residents’ concerns.
"Even though the representatives could not answer many of the complaints, I can only hope they will compel someone in the Department of Transportation to answer to them," Maher added.
Charlie O’Shea, of the NYS DOT New York City region, said that DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald knows about the issues on Hempstead Turnpike and a study is being done on the entire corridor.
“The department is committed to addressing the safety issues of Hempstead Turnpike,” said Luis Calderon, also of the NYS DOT New York City region, adding that the commissioner “is very serious about addressing this issue and she has assigned staff to do this study to address this and come up with short term and long term solutions to this problem.”
“The commissioner has instructed the staff in [NYS DOT Long Island] Region 10 to initiate [the] study to make sure that the safety issues are being addressed,” Calderon said.
According to a Tri-State Transportation Corporation (TSTC) report, which was released earlier this year, Hempstead Turnpike was rated the most dangerous road in the area. In addition to the deaths of Thearle and D’Alessandro, between 2008 and 2010, 15 people were killed along the busy corridor.
The idea of installing an overpass, similar to those located by Hofstra University, was also discussed.
Andrew Booth, Vice President of the Levittown Property Owners’ Association, said that residents need to talk to their local representatives to bring issues with Hempstead Turnpike, and other roadways, to their attention.
“We’ve gone through all of this – we’ve gone with the studies, we’ve gone with the planning, we’ve sent letters to the right people – and it seems like nothing gets done and that is the problem here,” one resident at the meeting said. “…So many in our community have done the same thing and nothing gets done.”
Other residents talked about issues with the Merrick Avenue intersection in front of the Meadows community, as well as the need for a traffic signal at Second Avenue and Newbridge Road. The NYS DOT previously told Patch that they have plans to install new lights on Newbridge Road at Second Avenue and at Lawn Drive "late this year."