NYSDOT’s Pedestrian Safety Efforts Fall Short in Smithtown

The intersection of Main Street (Route 25/25A) and Lawrence Avenue in Smithtown. Since this photo was taken, NYSDOT installed fencing to prevent jaywalking, striped higher-visibility crosswalks, and retimed signals. But the agency hasn't addressed the intersection's fundamental problem: A road design that allows cars to speed through downtown.

Route 25/25A in downtown Smithtown, in Suffolk County, is becoming well known for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, two young sisters, Mabel and Melody Burgos, were injured while crossing the street at its intersection with Lawrence Avenue.  As of Monday, Melody was still in a coma.  This is the same intersection and roadway where four other pedestrians have been struck since January 2010, with three killed, including 11-year-old Courtney Sipes and 33-year-old Seamus Byrne.  These fatalities prompted the NYSDOT to target downtown Smithtown as a pilot area for its SafeSeniors pedestrian safety program, and some of the targeted improvements had been implemented by last fall. These limited improvements, while welcome, haven’t gone far enough.

Saying that more couldn’t be done because of limited capital funding, the DOT made these improvements with existing operating resources.  With this latest news, it is clear the DOT has a lot of work to do.  New crosswalks and fencing to channel pedestrians to safer crossings have done little to alter the fundamental problem facing pedestrians and other non-motorists along Route 25/25A:  speeding cars, often traveling well over the posted limit of 30 mph.

According to reports, both Smithtown and Suffolk County officials support reducing the number of lanes in downtown Smithtown from four to two, a “road diet” that would reduce the speed of automobiles and increase pedestrian safety (and wouldn’t necessarily be expensive, since it could be done through restriping).  Unfortunately, since Route 25/25A is a state road, the decision rests at NYSDOT.  And while NYSDOT has talked a good game about improving pedestrian safety, it’s been hesitant to actually implement major improvements. Joan McDonald, the agency’s new commissioner, has an opportunity to bring new ideas to NYSDOT’s Region 10 (Long Island) office that will reduce needless accidents on the road.

Photo: Google Street View.

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7 comments to NYSDOT’s Pedestrian Safety Efforts Fall Short in Smithtown

  • Scott

    Quoting from the article: “the fundamental problem facing pedestrians and other non-motorists along Route 25/25A: speeding cars, often traveling well over the posted limit of 30 mph.”

    Instead of asking DOT to spend money here when hundreds of miles of roads are literally falling apart, how about we address the real problem? I suggest an aggressive speed enforcement campaign. Two wider lanes will probably lead to even more speeding, and will also put more drivers in the position of making bad decisions when going around turning cars. Having the speed limit enforced will solve the problem and make some money for the town at the same time. For those who woudl complain about paying the fines, there is an easy solution. Drive The Speed Limit.

  • Scott,

    Aggressive speeding campaigns don’t work and are VERY expensive. Speed reducing engineering actually does.

  • [...] Town and County Support Road Diet For Deadly Rt 25/25A, But Where Is NYSDOT? (MTR) [...]

  • [...] Yesterday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on the NY State DOT to do more to protect pedestrians walking along Main Street (Route 25/25A) in Smithtown in downtown Suffolk County. Three pedestrians have been killed on the road since January 2010, and a 9-year-old girl was seriously injured after being struck by a car last month. [...]

  • [...] previous road modifications did not do enough to make the stretch safer, the state now plans to implement a “road diet” by removing [...]

  • David D

    I congratulate the NYSDOT for their efforts so far in helping to make Rt 25/25A in Smithtown safer. I agree that more can be done however to help make it even safer while maintaining a smooth flow of traffic in both direction. For example, we should look at more ways to greatly reduce the need for pedestrians to cross the street. One solution is to provide more parking for all the stores on the north side of Rt. 25. Also, store owners may consider providing rear door entrance to their stores to facilitate those who park in the back. The reason most tend to cross the street is due to the parking arrangements whereby it is easier to park in the shopping center then walk across the street. Though we can’t expect to eliminate having to cross the street all the time, we can look to make it unnecessary.

  • Joe

    David, while one could argue the road diet has made crossings “safer” these changes have had a completely adverse effect on “maintaining a smooth flow of traffic”. Smithtown is now a haven for traffic jams at any hour of the day which hurts local businesses as residents and passerby’s purposely avoid main street Smithtown all together because of the traffic.

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