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Officials: Nassau County missed 'Stop Here on Red' sign deadline

A county spokeswoman called the signs "essential to the safety" of residents, but said Nassau would not install them in a "rushed, irresponsible manner."

Andy Kuzma of Levittown holds signs required to

Andy Kuzma of Levittown holds signs required to be put up in Nassau County. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

Nassau County missed the deadline to install legislatively mandated red-light camera warning signs alerting motorists to traffic restrictions, including where to stop before making a legal right turn on red, officials said.

A bill, unanimously approved by the county legislature in December, required County Executive Laura Curran to install the signs, which read "Stop Here on Red," with an arrow pointing to the location where drivers must halt, by March 1.

To date 30 percent of Nassau's 95 red-light camera intersections have the mandatory signage, according to Curran spokeswoman Christine Geed. Red-light camera violations cost motorists $150 in fines and fees.

Legis. John Ferretti (R-Levittown), the bill's sponsor, said it's unfair that motorists continue to receive tickets — often for failing to make a complete stop before making a right on red or for stopping just past the white pavement markings — without the proper signage in place.

"This in unacceptable," Ferretti said at a news conference Friday at the  corner of Cotton Lane and Wantagh Avenue in Levittown, one of the camera locations lacking signs. "Laws are not optional. Time frames in laws are not suggestions." 

In a statement, Geed called the signs "essential to the safety" of residents but said the county would not install them in a "rushed, irresponsible manner." The Department of Public Works, she said, plans to put up the remaining signs by April 15.

" 'Stop Here on Red' signs are more difficult to install due to location limitations at the intersection," Geed said. "They require utility mark-outs and drilling into the sidewalk for installation. Coordination with New York State’s [Department of Transportation] and the weather are also significant factors dictating the pace of responsible installation."

Feretti responded that the March 1 deadline was suggested by the administration and that this past winter has seen comparatively little snow.

Red-light cameras capture digital still images and video of a driver and automatically issue violations. Nearly all of Nassau and Suffolk's red-light camera intersections already have signs indicating the presence of the cameras.

But lawmakers said the additional signs are critical because a high percentage of violations are for failing to make a complete stop before turning right on a red light. Feretti said many motorists have also complained about receiving tickets when the stop line on the pavement is not visible, either because of snow or because road markings have eroded and must be repainted.

"We expect residents are going to obey red-light laws," said Legis. Steven Rhoades (R-Bellmore). "We expect the administration to obey those laws as well when they are passed by the county legislature and signed by the county executive."

Suffolk County does not require additional signage indicating where a motorist should stop to avoid a right-on-red ticket.

Adam Sackowitz, a Salisbury resident who has received several red-light camera tickets, said the cameras need better identification. 

"They should not be hidden," Sackowitz said. "This is not about revenue. This about public safety. And for people hesitant to put signs up, that means it's all about revenue because they want people to get red-light camera tickets."

Revenue from Nassau’s red-light camera program, which began in 2009, jumped nearly 44 percent, from $33.7 million in 2015 to $48.5 million in 2016, according to the most recent county data.

County officials said an increase in 2016 to the “Driver Responsibility” fee, from $30 to $45, likely boosted the amount of money generated from the program — marking the first time since 2012 that camera revenue grew.

The fee, which pays for issuing, processing and adjudicating violations, is among several penalties that have brought the cost of red-light camera violations to $150 each. The funds collected  go into the county’s general fund.

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