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Feds Strongly Recommend Safety Upgrade For Stretch Of LIE After Cop’s Death

Tragic Loss Of Officer Califano Results In Plan For Sweeping Changes
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Police Officer Michael Califano (Photo/Nassau County Police)

Police Officer Michael Califano (Photo/Nassau County Police)

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There is danger on one of the most heavily traveled roads in America.

A federal study out Thursday recommends a 7.2-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway undergo immediate safety changes, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The sign reads “No bicycles. Pedestrians. Horses,” but some motorists argue even in a car they’re not safe. We’re talking about a section of the dreaded LIE in Nassau County — just over the Queens border — known as “Dead Man’s Curve.”

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story

From Exit 35 in Lake Success to Exit 41 in Jericho there is a stretch of terror for 223,000 daily vehicles.

As many as 25 law enforcement officers have been injured, paralyzed or killed there in the last decade, including, most recently, 39-year-old Officer Michael Califano.

“It happened right over here. It’s emotional, it is. I get choked up when I’m talking about it,” said Nassau County Highway Patrolman Louis Masino, showing McLogan the spot where Officer Califano died back in February.

Officer Masino continues to work the hazardous stretch of the LIE, where his close friend and colleague lost his life during traffic stop. With little room to pull over and winding pavement, the death of the respected cop was the last straw, according to Sen. Charles Schumer. The tragedy sparking a federal highway study.

“This is a danger not only to our police officers, but to average citizens who drive on the LIE as well,” Sen. Schumer said.

And on Thursday night, shocking results of that 43-page assessment came in. It found emergency pull-off areas, more overhead lights and cameras to deter speeders are all needed, in addition to blue strobes and reflective clothing for police officers.

“They recognize there is a problem. They should act upon it immediately. There’s federal funds available for it,” said Nassau County PBA President James Carver.

For some families that drive the LIE, changes can’t come fast enough.

“Oh I dread it. The way people drive, it scares me,” motorist Frances Griffin said.

Others acknowledge it’s a double-edged sword. They want safety changes but fear months or years of construction delays.

The State Department of Transportation says safety is its top priority, and that it has already begun some of the recommended improvements.

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