ROSLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Imagine the temptation of an extra empty lane on a crowded expressway, that others could use, but not you, just because of where you live?
It’s a problem frustrating Long Island drivers for years, but now it is finally fixed, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
It is a welcome sight for drivers in Nassau County. For eight years, thousands each day had no access to the expressway’s HOV lane. Frustrated residents complained they suffered through a decade of construction but then couldn’t use the fast lane.
“Even if there was room, and the HOV lane was moving, they couldn’t get into the HOV lane because there was no opening,” North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss said.
Now, after fielding complaints for years, the New York State Department of Transportation has added two new access points. Until now, folks in Nassau County could only jump on the HOV lane westbound in the Jericho area and had no other access until they were nearly in Queens. They couldn’t even get in the fast lane on weekends when carpool rules were not in effect.
“You see people breaking the law because they have to, because they get so frustrated being stuck in traffic,” one driver said.
“There are certain points where this will make things a lot easier for a lot of people, including me,” another said.
The new access points are in between Exit 37 and 38 in both directions. Community groups are hopeful it will ease traffic but have little hope for carpools catching on. They said the $880 million spent on a fourth LIE lane used only for cars with more than two people wasn’t worth it.
“It’s being used, but the concept and where the money came on was not successful. No, it didn’t [catch on]. It’s very hard on Long Island to get in a carpool with someone,” said Lisa Tyson of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
So what took so long to add the access? Eight years ago the DOT said Nassau County was too congested and the LIE too narrow to add access. Now, they say they reconfigured the lanes and lines to make it safe.
According to the state DOT, 180,000 people use the LIE In Nassau County every day, and more than 30,000 of them use the HOV lane.
The agency’s hope is that the new entrances will encourage even more drivers to take advantage of its benefits.
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