VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A deadly stretch of a Long Island parkway could soon be subject to hefty driver fines for speeding and other infractions.
Lawmakers in Albany are proposing creating a special highway safety corridor on the Southern State Parkway.READ MORE: See It: Fireworks Celebrate Essential Workers, As New York Lifts Most COVID Restrictions
There are a dozen roadside memorials on any given day along the Southern State Parkway, dubbed “Blood Alley” through Nassau County, for good reason.
Decades of tragedies, wrong way crashes, impaired, distracted and aggressive driving crashes, trucks hitting overpasses.
In just the last two years, there have been 16 fatalities and 1,722 crashes. Some blame the road itself, built a century ago and intended for far less capacity. Others point to dangerous drivers.
“They’re just swerving in and out like we’re in a track race or something,” one person said.
“You do see people really, really speeding,” another person said.
“It could be the road. It bends and turns,” another person said.
Lawmakers blame both and propose a new approach — a bill in Albany called “S.O.S.,” short for “Safety on the Southern State.”
“The truth of the matter is most of what we see out here on the parkway is human behavior,” Sen. John Brooks said.READ MORE: New York Relaxes Most COVID-19 Restrictions After Reaching 70% Vaccination Rate; Cuomo: 'A Momentous Day'
The pilot program, a first in New York, would designate a safety corridor with special signage or technology warning of a danger zone.
“It’s just smart. We cannot see another death, we cannot see another injury here, and just say, ‘Oh well, it’s human error.’ We have the ability to save lives,” Assemblymember Michaelle Solages said.
“It’s time to stop the carnage and stop building memorials and start building highway improvements and safer driving,” said Marc Herbst, director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association.
At the same time, they await results of a Department of Transportation study on ramp safety to prevent drivers from entering the wrong way. That could include camera enforcement.
The DOT released the following statement regarding the study:
“The study confirms that the countermeasures in place meet or exceed national engineering standards for deterring such incidents. Furthermore, NYSDOT continually reviews the safety measures in place for enhancement as appropriate. The report also concluded, however, that incidents of wrong way driving during the study period were 100 percent attributable to impaired driving.
Additionally, more than 400 safety enhancements have been completed along the Southern State Parkway during the last three years ranging from new signs to highly reflective lane markings. A $16 million resurfacing project is underway now between the Cross Island Parkway and exit 20 and additional pavement renewal projects are currently in the planning stages.”
Safety corridors have been used around the nation, including in New Jersey, for years, but statistics show they lose effectiveness over time as the public gets used to the signage and begins to ignore it.
That’s why the plan includes enforcement and the doubling of fines along the infamous stretch.MORE NEWS: COVID Restrictions Lifted: Yankee Stadium Returns To Full Capacity Friday
The exact location of a new safety corridor would be determined by the New York state DOT after reviewing collision data.