Conklin Street in Farmingdale to get safety changes after fatal crash, Cuomo says

Nassau and Suffolk police respond to the scene Nassau and Suffolk police respond to the scene of a two-vehicle accident in Farmingdale on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The crash happened shortly after midnight on Conklin Street near Staples Street, police said. Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the state transportation department Wednesday to change the configuration of a state road in Farmingdale where a May car accident killed five teenagers.

The state will reduce a portion of Conklin Street, also known as Route 24, to two lanes from four. The new two-lane section of the road will run almost three quarters of a mile from Secatogue Avenue to Birch Avenue. The state will also add a 15-foot left-turn lane to the center of the roadway.

"Implementing these safety precautions on Conklin Street will bring traffic speeds to safer levels and help reduce both the number and the severity of crashes in the area," Cuomo said in a news release. "My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones on this road, and it is my hope that between these new measures and our driver education and enforcement initiatives that we can prevent any future tragedies in this community."

In the early hours of May 10, a sedan carrying five teenagers on Conklin Street crossed into an eastbound lane and hit a sport utility vehicle. All the teenagers died at the scene or later at a hospital.

Speeding on that stretch of road has drawn complaints from officials and residents for years.

The planned roadway configuration is known as a "road diet" that the Federal Highway Administration identifies as a proven safety countermeasure that it credits with reducing crashes by 29 percent where implemented.

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The state is resurfacing Route 24 from Meadowbrook Parkway to Route 110, and that section of the road will be striped in the new configuration after it is repaved. The governor's office expects the work will be completed by the end of November.

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, who asked the state to take measures to reduce speeding on the road, welcomed Cuomo's announcement.

"People are going to be able to travel safer through a major artery in our village," Ekstrand said in an interview.

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Ekstrand also said that another measure implemented after the accident -- the installation of radar that triggers traffic lights to turn red when a vehicle is speeding -- has worked.

"Even if you're a speeder, you stop for a red light," Ekstrand said. "People are driving slower in that section of the village."

Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) praised Cuomo for his quick response to addressing what he called the Conklin Avenue "speedway."

"Using a combination of physical lane changes and technological innovations for speed detection and traffic signal responses, Governor Cuomo's actions will benefit the safety of all residents," Hannon said in a news release.

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