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Officials Announce New Safety Efforts For Hempstead Turnpike

Hempstead Turnpike Safety Initiative - Elmont, NY - May 7, 2012 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

Hempstead Turnpike Safety Initiative – Elmont, NY – May 7, 2012 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

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ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Hempstead Turnpike on Long Island has been listed as the most dangerous roadway in the Tr-State Area and on Monday, federal, state and local officials announced a new push for safety.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story


Between 2008 and 2011, there were 326 pedestrian crashes, killing 20 people walking across the six-lane road, which is also known to critics as a “16-mile obstacle course,” officials told CBS 2′ Jennifer McLogan.

Speaking to reporters in Elmont on Monday, officials said that pedestrians need to pay more attention and be more careful along the busy road.

“Ultimately, the safety of pedestrians remains the responsibility of the pedestrians,” Emmett McDevitt of the Federal Highway Administration told WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs.

“It’s safer to cross the San Diego freeway than Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown,” one pedestrian told McLogan.

“We do expect people to live, work and play here,” another added.

Officials highlighted statistics showing that an 67 percent of fatalities on Hempstead Turnpike are caused by pedestrian carelessness. As a result, New York State and Nassau County said they plan to educate pedestrians on traffic safety.

State DOT Commissioner John McDonald said physical improvements will continue to be made. Crosswalks have been widened and repainted, pedestrian crossing buttons have been lighted, crossing times have been increased at 86 intersections, traffic signals have been reprogrammed to slow traffic, no turn on red signs being have been installed and broken street lights have been fixed, with another 79 that aren’t functioning, CBS 2′s McLogan said.

“Mid-block signals that could include raised medians, fences,” McDonald said.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said that McDonald assured him that cost will not be a factor in correcting the roadway.

“That’s welcome news that New York State is going to put the resources into this roadway that’s necessary to make it more safe,” Mangano said. “Hempstead Turnpike, we want to eliminate it from the list of most dangerous roadways in New York State.”

One pedestrian told Xirinachs that he welcomes the improvements because he blames reckless drivers.

“Running the red light, running the stop signs, not giving a pedestrian a chance to cross,” pedestrian Eli Sobilik told Xirinachs.

“It’s very congested and confusing,” another person told McLogan.

“People aren’t paying attention. They’re in a hurry,” another said.

The county will now step up enforcement, which will include more red-light cameras to ticket speeders and jaywalkers on Hempstead Turnpike, along with an informational safety campaign, McLogan reported.

What improvements would you like to see made on Hempstead Turnpike? Sound off in the comments section below.