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Dodging dangers getting to train station

Birchwood Co-op board of directors member Russell Sutherland,

Birchwood Co-op board of directors member Russell Sutherland, superintendent Carlos Rivera and resident Lou Camacho at a spot where there's no traffic signal or crosswalk for residents to cross Roslyn Road to get to the Mineola LIRR station. (Jan. 16, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright

When residents of the Birchwood Court co-op apartments in Mineola head for the train station, they typically go by foot. After all, the station is a hop-skip-and-jump from the 444-unit complex on Roslyn Road.


But the journey can require some dodges and sprints as well: They cross Roslyn Road in front of the apartments, where there's neither a traffic signal nor crosswalk.

Russell Sutherland, a member of the cooperative's board of directors, met me at curbside recently with resident Lou Camacho and complex superintendent Carlos Rivera. They pointed out the potential hazards and spoke of their efforts to get a traffic signal installed.

I was initially skeptical of the need for traffic intervention. After all, there's a crosswalk with a pedestrian countdown just a block to the south, at Old Country Road. Walking that route added about 4 minutes to the trek to the station.And if the choice is between the fastest route, or crossing where there's a traffic signal and crosswalk, I'd be tempted by the option more likely to keep me alive.

The three gentlemen regarded me as naive.

"It's even more dangerous trying to cross there," at Old Country Road, Sutherland said. Though a sign prohibits Right Turn on Red if pedestrians are in the crosswalk, Sutherland says that hasn't prevented some close calls. A hedge prevents a view around one corner, blocking the view of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Sutherland avoids crossing there because "it's just too dangerous."

Pedestrians aren't the only concern. The location of the desired traffic signal, at Birchwood Court, is busy with cars entering and leaving the apartments. Nassau County Police said in the three years ending Oct. 1, four accidents were reported there.

Roslyn Road is a county road, so the decision about whether to install a signal belongs to the county. The Department of Public Works "initially performed a traffic signal warrant analysis specifically at the Birchwood complex driveway," spokesman Michael Martino said, but found that "vehicular and pedestrian volumes" didn't warrant a signal.

The county undertook a traffic study in October of the nearby Old Country Road-Roslyn Road intersection "to determine if changes to that intersection could benefit the area" including the Birchwood complex, Martino said, and subsequently met with Mineola officials. "A final determination has not yet been made," he said.

Sutherland, Camacho and Rivera showed me a steel plate in the sidewalk, which they said was installed for a traffic signal conduit box. Mineola Village Clerk Joseph Scalero said such infrastructure was put in place several years ago, during a nearby LIRR grade crossing elimination, to clear the way for installation of a traffic signal.

Mineola definitely wants the signal, Scalero said. The village submitted a request to the county during the grade crossing work, he said, and has renewed it regularly in the years since. "As a matter of course, we would be very happy to work with the county to get this," he said.



Flooding problem resolved


Ever since I was a kid, I recall flooding problems on Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage, between Point of Woods Road and Melissa Lane. Now I live on Point of Woods Road and can witness it every time there is a heavy rain. The culprit is the four storm drains that are clogged with debris. Each time I've called Nassau County, they eventually send a truck to clean the drains. But if the drains were cleaned more frequently, flooding wouldn't occur. I've walked in rain boots to clear the drains myself, and the water subsided right away.

-- Scott Boudin, Old Bethpage

The storm drains have been cleaned, Mr. Boudin.

A crew was dispatched after we brought the situation on that block-long stretch of Round Swamp Road to the attention of Nassau County's Department of Public Works.

In an email, department spokesman Mike Martino said the county "will continue to monitor the situation and perform routine cleanup as necessary" as well as respond to calls from residents about ponding on the road.

County workers typically visit a location the same day that residents call to report a problem, he said.

Readers with similar issues on county roads can call 516-571-6900, Martino said.


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