Street crossing by Eastport school risky

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Diane Cheslock, of Eastport, watches as cars speed Diane Cheslock, of Eastport, watches as cars speed through the crosswalk. (July 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column ...

There is a serious problem on Montauk Highway in Eastport, across from Eastport Elementary School. Many drivers don't slow down in the school zone and some don't even stop when the crossing guard halts traffic for kids to cross. Southampton police have set up radar for speed enforcement, but not for the long term. At the very least, the crosswalks should be repainted, new signs put up, and tickets issued.

-- Diane Cheslock, Eastport

The police and county are undertaking efforts aimed at improving safety near the crosswalks. For starters: The crosswalks are ready for the new school year, having just received a fresh coat of paint.

And Southampton police Chief Robert Pearce, who visited the site after we inquired about the situation, said he is directing extra enforcement in the school zone, which has a 20-mph speed limit.

Officers have periodically patrolled that section of road, Pearce said, but continuous staffing hasn't been possible because other locations also need the department's manpower. The school location is "not as productive" in terms of aggressive driving violations as some others, he said, but couldn't specify how many tickets have been issued there because "our system does not track citations by location."

The crosswalks are maintained by Suffolk County, and Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst sent an email to county Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson last month reminding him that paint is needed so they would be visible.

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County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter initially told us the repainting was slated for this year but she couldn't guarantee it would happen before the school year. A few days later, Cheslock called to tell us the work had been done.

But new signs, such as those that display speeds of passing cars, don't appear likely. Baird-Streeter said existing signs adhere to the guidelines of the Institute of Traffic Engineers' Manual of Traffic Signal Design, which the county relies on.

In one more back-to-school effort: Road lines and markings on Tuttle Avenue, along one side of the school, are being repainted, town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said. Such work is done each year before school begins.

As for traffic on Montauk Highway: "People just go too darn fast," he said.

-- MICHAEL R. EBERT

@Newsday

 

This pole, on the corner of a busy intersection at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, has been like this for more than two years. It has been reinforced only to have the reinforcement break! "When" it collapses, and it will, it is going to fall on the avenue.

-- Ken Walden, Massapequa

We had received earlier reports about the sorry condition of this utility pole, but it didn't reach the top of our list until Walden provided photos showing even more deterioration.

He told us the pole was broken last summer and was "leaning more and more each day. They . . . kept adding supports that also broke!"

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When we brought the pole to the attention of the Long Island Power Authority, a spokeswoman told us that though LIPA's equipment had been transferred to a new pole nearby, the old one had to stay until Verizon's equipment was also transferred. "Verizon has been notified," spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler told us in an email.

A few days later, Verizon spokesman John Bonomo reported that the work had been completed -- and the leaning tower of 'Pequa was history.

JUDY CARTWRIGHT

 

So texting while driving is against the law. But what about simply scrolling through email while sitting at a red light?

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We were surprised to learn that it's permitted.

Both Nassau and Suffolk police departments told us the state law allows a driver to use an electronic device as long as the car is not moving. According to the law, "No person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion," according to the state law. The policy is different for commercial vehicles; those drivers can use such devices "only when the vehicle is stopped at the side of, or off, a public highway," according to the law.

Still, laws are open to a judge's interpretation. One lawyer who handles traffic cases said, in one upstate case, a judge ruled that a driver at a red light was still "in motion."

No one is encouraging drivers at red lights to engage in email which, it goes without saying, diverts attention from what's happening on the roadway. As for those who can't resist, we'd like to make a plea: Drivers behind you are waiting, too, so be ready for the light to turn green.

JUDY CARTWRIGHT

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