Lindenhurst wants state to act on Montauk Highway after boy injured

Vehicles drive down Montauk Highway near Strongs Avenue

Vehicles drive down Montauk Highway near Strongs Avenue in Lindenhurst, Friday, June 20, 2014. (Credit: Steve Pfost)

Lindenhurst Village officials last week expressed frustration over what they say is a lack of attention by the state Department of Transportation to a section of Montauk Highway.

Officials' aggravation over a section of the highway they complain is dangerous was reignited after a 10-year-old boy, John Johnson of Lindenhurst, was seriously injured after he was struck by a car June 14 while crossing Montauk Highway near South 13th Street.

"The state should have done something about this years ago," Mayor Thomas Brennan said. "Does it take two people getting killed to get something done?"


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Brennan was referring to Brittney Walsh, 18, who in 2012 was killed a block from where John was hit after her car was rear-ended by a driver prosecutors say was drunk and speeding.

Village officials said they have asked the state DOT for more than a decade to look into placing traffic-calming measures on the stretch of Montauk from South Strong Avenue to Park Avenue. With few lights, that nearly 2-mile segment of Montauk Highway, which the village said was widened to five lanes by the DOT in the 1990s, promotes speeds of 50 mph or more, they said.

In March, Brennan wrote to the state seeking a traffic study, calling the area a "speedway" for motorists and asking for one lane in each direction to be eliminated.

In response, the DOT issued a statement saying the agency has begun a study that is using "traffic data analysis and sound engineering principles" to help identify potential safety improvements. Traffic engineers, the agency said, are conducting "thorough on-site observations, delay studies, crash analysis and a speed study of this area."

The DOT will also review studies done in 2007 and 2009, said spokesman Beau Duffy. According to the agency, those studies indicated "moderate traffic volumes, occasional delays" and did not meet "nationally accepted engineering criteria for installing traffic signals or for reducing the speed limit." The DOT noted that improper traffic controls "can exacerbate the situation and lead to an increase in accidents and congestion."

Village officials said they were unaware of any studies currently underway and have never met with the DOT about previous studies.

"We've had nobody come down and sit with us and go over our concerns," said Shawn Cullinane, village clerk-treasurer. "If they're just doing counts and statistics, that's not enough."

Duffy said the DOT has taken a new approach that looks at the entire corridor, instead of just specific road segments. He said the DOT plans to meet with village officials.

Residents in the area said they have witnessed or been a part of numerous car crashes over the years.

Christine Tarantino, 43, lives on a side street just blocks from where John was hit and said she worries for her 10-year-old son, who likes to walk down Montauk Highway.

"The people who drive down this road are just absolutely flying," she said. "I want my kid to be safe. I just want him to have a childhood where he can ride his bike up to the ices place with his friends and not worry about insane people driving too fast."

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