East Williston wants safe crosswalks for busy county roads

Commuters wait to cross Hillside Avenue after disembarking

Commuters wait to cross Hillside Avenue after disembarking from a train at the East Williston LIRR station on Thursday July 10, 2014. (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

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East Williston Mayor David Tanner has asked the Nassau County Department of Public Works to reconsider safety measures for what residents say is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians in the Village Green area.

Residents say when they try to cross East Williston Avenue, which becomes Hillside Avenue, to get to and from the Long Island Rail Road station, or to and from their homes or parks, the traffic is so aggressive that it can take up to 20 minutes to get a chance to dart across the street during rush hours. They say they want crosswalks and "yield to pedestrians" signs installed.

"The problem is it's so congested in that area and there's no compassion from the people driving by," said John Gennawey, a resident.

In particular, he said the corner at Post Lane is a major concern.

"I've tried to get across with my two little boys in a wagon, and they've [drivers] made no effort to let me go," he said.

A study by Nassau County nearly 10 years ago found no need for any traffic control changes in the area because the situation was characteristic of any county road.

"For that reason, the county does not normally recommend the installation of crosswalks at uncontrolled intersections on county roads. These crosswalks tend to give pedestrians a false sense of security," Joseph L. Davenport, the county's deputy commissioner of public works, said recently.

He said some national studies have shown pedestrian accidents have actually increased with the installation of crosswalks at uncontrolled locations, meaning without a traffic light.

However, Tanner said that a crosswalk should be reconsidered and said he has asked the county to take a fresh look at the situation since traffic has significantly increased in the area.

"The county is reviewing the matter," said Mike Martino, a spokesman for the Nassau Department of Public Works.

Residents say a crosswalk is in order.

"People catching trains in the evening rush hour can wait 20 minutes to get across and miss their train," Gennawey said.

"There are moms with strollers trying to cross all the time and they [drivers] won't let you," said resident Sabrina Scarantino.

She said she has found the traffic unrelenting when she has tried to cross with her 18-month-old daughter in a stroller.

"If there's traffic, they just don't let you go," she said.

Scarantino said she has also used the train for her commute into Manhattan for work as a freelance television producer and has found that trying to get out of the train station is tough, too.

"When I got off the train, I would try to cross the street before the gates opened -- going by the front of the train and trying to cross as soon as possible," Scarantino said.

James Cadugan, an accountant in Manhattan, said he gets to his morning train early. When he takes the 7:26 a.m. he makes sure he starts trying to cross the street at 7 so he won't miss it, he said.

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