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Fence built to hike Hempstead Tpke. safety

New York State Department of Transportation employees installing

New York State Department of Transportation employees installing a fence on Hempstead Turnpike to prevent pedestrian casualties. (Jan. 11, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The first physical barrier discouraging people from midblock crossings on Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County, one of the region's most dangerous stretches of road for pedestrians, is being installed in East Meadow.

Fencing about 4 feet high is being erected in the traffic median across from Nassau University Medical Center, an area heavily trafficked both by vehicles and pedestrians.

The work was not completed Friday. State Department of Transportation officials have said the fencing will be installed between Carman and Franklin avenues, a distance of more than 900 feet.

"I think it's a good idea," said Mike McLaughlin, manager of Elegant Entries, a door and window shop on the south side of the turnpike, across from where about a half-dozen men worked on the fence.

"I see a lot of people running," he said. "Even if it saves one life, it's worth it."

The median fencing is part of a multimillion-dollar safety upgrade of the turnpike through Nassau. The improvements were supposed to be done in the fall, but state officials said that superstorm Sandy cleanup and cold weather delayed the work.

Other safety upgrades planned this month include 13 raised pedestrian medians along the corridor through Nassau.

State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald pledged to make the turnpike safer for pedestrians in February, after a Newsday investigation of police accident reports from 2005 through 2010 found that people on foot were killed an average of more than five times a year on the road's 16 miles through Nassau. Thirty-two people were killed and at least 427 injured in 457 pedestrian incidents on the road over the six years studied.

Seventy percent of the pedestrians killed on the turnpike from 2005 through 2010 were not at an intersection when they were hit by a car, according to the analysis of hundreds of accident reports on pedestrian deaths and injuries.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a transportation advocacy group, has named Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau the most dangerous road for pedestrians in the metropolitan region four times since 2008.

On Thursday in Uniondale, a pedestrian was hit by a car and critically injured on the turnpike near Uniondale Avenue.The pedestrian's name was not released; no charges have been filed, police said Friday.

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