Feeder road would steer away truck traffic

A cement truck heads down Colin Drive, a A cement truck heads down Colin Drive, a residential street in Shirley. Residents would like a stop sign, to slow traffic, or a new road to divert the trucks. (Dec. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column ...

Cement mixers and eighteen-wheelers drive past Mary Trujillo's house in Shirley every day, starting as early as 2 a.m. and continuing late into the night. They're bound for the cement plant at the end of her street, Colin Drive.

Trujillo, who's lived on Colin Drive almost 19 years, says far more trucks make the trip now than in earlier years -- she's counted as many as 150 a day. She is exasperated by the traffic volume and speed on the 30 mph street, citing the hazard to children playing in front yards or riding bikes.

The neighborhood has been pleading with Brookhaven Town to install a stop sign -- it would be the second on the street, which is about a half-mile long -- a move they hope would slow traffic.

For the safety of children on the street, "we had to move the [school] bus stop into my driveway," Trujillo said.

When Watchdog asked the town about the prospects of a new stop sign, at Colin Drive and Helene Avenue, we were referred to the office of Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

Kepert aide Liz Krolik-Alexander said the town's traffic safety division conducted a study after receiving the residents' request but the findings did not warrant a stop sign. "We can push to get a sign, but it's not going to reduce the volume of traffic" on Colin, she said.

The town is pursuing another option, she said: Construction of a feeder road that would provide access to the cement plant from nearby Moriches-Middle Island Road. The new road would be expected to divert most, if not all, of the truck traffic away from Colin Drive.

Negotiations have been under way between the town and the cement business, Krolik-Alexander said. "It's been a complicated problem," complete with litigation, she said, but cited progress and "an agreement to go forward."

The proposed road would take the place of one that closed years ago. The earlier road had a sharp curve deemed hazardous.

"Our goal is to get them [the cement plant] to build the road as per our highway specifications," she said. Watchdog left a voice mail at the phone number listed for the cement plant but did not get a response.

As for a time frame: Krolik-Alexander said the aim is to get a road constructed this year.

For now, the town can issue tickets for plant operations between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., she said, which can lead to court dates and fines but have little impact on the traffic on Colin Drive.

 

Nassau County put up a sign about resurfacing Stewart Avenue in Bethpage. This road was just done a couple of years ago, and there's not a pothole or a bump in the whole road. I can't see them tearing up the road and re-asphalting it again. I'd appreciate your help in getting this project stopped.

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-- Ed Markowski, Hicksville

We didn't get the Stewart Avenue project stopped, Mr. Markowski, but we did get explanations about why a new round of work is on the way.

Although "road resurfacing project" is the term used on a county sign announcing the work, the aim appears to be safety improvements at the Stewart Avenue Long Island Rail Road crossing.

County spokesman Michael Martino said the work is a joint project of Nassau County and the LIRR "undertaken to respond to community requests to improve the LIRR crossing in the wake of some tragic accidents at the location."

The LIRR will install center medians on Stewart, realign existing crossing gates and add new gates "to improve safety for commuters, pedestrians and vehicles at the crossing," railroad spokesman Salvatore Arena said.

The crossing was the site of four fatal accidents from 2006 through 2008, three involving pedestrians and one a bicyclist who went around crossing gates.

The cost of the LIRR's portion of the project is $287,000, which Arena said will be reimbursed by the state Department of Transportation.

The work will have a negligible impact on the county's operating budget, Martino said; the county will be reimbursed about $155,000 of its $170,000 cost.

A sign on Stewart Avenue announcing the project proclaims that the county is "putting people back to work." Watchdog asked if the county is hiring unemployed workers for the job.

"The County works with outside contractors on these projects, creating jobs and opportunities for workers while improving the County's infrastructure," Martino said in an email. The contract was awarded to Carlo Lizza and Sons of Hicksville.

The job is on the Department of Public Works capital projects list, all of which required approval by the County Legislature.

-- JUDY CARTWRIGHT

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