Building upon Tri-State’s annual report on the Most Dangerous Roads for Walking, which once again named Hempstead Turnpike the most deadly road for pedestrians in the region, the New York State Department of Transportation began studying potential safety improvements to the dangerous roadway earlier this year and yesterday announced significant pedestrian safety upgrades along the 16 mile long road. According to Newsday, the improvements will include new crosswalks, raised medians along stretches of the corridor, an extension of crossing times for pedestrians, and widened crosswalks. Since 2008, Tri-State and our partners have called for these, and other improvements as well as a Safe Routes to Transit program, to address the high incidence of pedestrian fatalities along the notoriously deadly stretch.
The recent announcement follows through on comments made earlier this year by NYSDOT Commissioner Joan MacDonald where she committed to both short and long-term safety improvements along Hempstead Turnpike where 15 fatalities occurred between 2008-2010.
In Newsday, Commissioner MacDonald intimated that the proposed plan was unprecedented, and “…the first time the department has looked at the corridor in its totality.” The plan also calls for the relocation of six Nassau Inter-County Express bus stops to ensure safer access to transit along the corridor, an important step to take after a Tri-State analysis found that 83% of pedestrian fatalities in Nassau County were also occurring within a 1/4 mile of NICE bus stops.
Moving forward, the DOT should work with local communities and advocates to identify the best way to implement their pedestrian safety plan and to ensure that these investments meet the needs of each specific community, as well as use a corridor study approach to addressing additional pedestrian safety hotspots throughout Long Island.