Work on 4 LIE pull-off areas nearly over
The four sites, from just west of Exit 35 for Shelter Rock Road to Exit 39 for Glen Cove Road, are primarily for law enforcement officers to conduct traffic stops, but could be used by motorists for emergencies, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Eileen Peters said. What constitutes an emergency is up to police, she said.
Two of the pull-offs being finished are on either side of the expressway near the Glen Cove Road overpass. A third is along the eastbound LIE, a half-mile west of the Shelter Rock Road bridge. The fourth is along the westbound expressway just east of the New Hyde Park Road overpass.
Construction of the four areas cost about $450,000, Peters said.
They have been paved, and signs are being erected while the contractor awaits the arrival of lighting equipment. Reflective signs that tell drivers they are approaching a "police enforcement emergency pull-off area" are being installed at all four locations.
"Once lighting is installed, the enforcement areas will be opened," Peters said. "We expect that work will be completed by the end of the month." The remaining six pull-offs are expected to be done this year also, she added.
The 10 new areas -- five eastbound and five westbound -- are the result of recommendations in a federal road safety audit conducted in 2011 after the death earlier that year of Nassau County Highway Patrolman Michael Califano. Califano, 44, died while doing a routine traffic stop on the westbound LIE at night, near the Glen Cove Road exit.
That crash was Nassau's first line-of-duty death since 1993. The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association subsequently cited two dozen instances over the previous decade of officers being struck while working along the LIE.
The audit, which examined a seven-mile stretch of the expressway between exits 35 and 41, led to a range of safety improvements and a pledge from state transportation officials to construct the 10 pull-offs -- four by the end of 2012. Peters said superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29 had diverted department resources, delaying completion by a few weeks.
Though the areas are not officially completed, Nassau police were seen conducting a traffic stop Friday at the pull-off west of the Glen Cove Road overpass.
"Because construction is close to completion, officers have started using them for traffic stops," confirmed Insp. Kenneth Lack, spokesman for the department.
The pull-offs widen the road shoulder by 10 feet for a length of about 125 feet.
Other recent safety improvements along the seven-mile stretch include replacing old signs that required electric lighting with highly reflective ones, installing flexible rubber markers in center median sections and along roadside guide rails, and adding rumble strips at exit and on-ramps.