Two days after a TSTC report revealed that Long Island has the two deadliest roads for pedestrians in the tri-state area, a group of transportation, smart growth, and civic organizations came to NYSDOT’s Long Island regional office (Region 10) to call for drastic changes in the way the office designs roads and works with communities.
TSTC executive director Kate Slevin and Vision Long Island executive director Eric Alexander underscored the disconnect between NYSDOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn, who has called for smart growth and transit-oriented development, and Region 10, the local office responsible for much of the auto-centric planning on Long Island that has jeopardized pedestrian and cyclist safety and exacerbated congestion.
“Long Islanders deserve to have a DOT that works to promote sustainable, 21st-century solutions to transportation and development issues,” Slevin said. Alexander cited Region 10′s long history of failing to work with communities (see, for example, MTR #s 289, 361, 537) and called for an overhaul of the office’s planning and public affairs departments, saying the office needed “new blood and new ideas.”
Representatives from three Long Island civic associations talked about dangerous roads in their municipalities and how Region 10 had ignored the need to consult with communities and to provide pedestrian accommodations. Debbie Felber of the Selden Civic Association described Region 10′s response to community concerns over Middle County Road in Selden: “We are finished with your road. We are moving on.” One stretch of Middle County Road has seen over 1,000 accidents in four years according to the Suffolk County police, she said.
Heather Sporn, a senior policy adviser from NYSDOT’s main office in Albany, responded by saying that Region 10 and the main office were “working closely” to improve community relations. She also described some safety initiatives that NYSDOT was working on, including a “Safe Routes for Seniors” program modeled after NYC’s, and updating road design guidelines to better accommodate pedestrians.
Alexander ended the press conference by saying that Vision Long Island and civic groups throughout Long Island would be looking through Region 10′s list of capital projects for the upcoming year for evidence of reform. “If there are projects on the books that will widen roads, that will make them less safe… well, we know the governor’s looking for budget cuts,” he said.