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Cuomo directs safety action on LI street where 5 teens were killed

Nassau and Suffolk police respond to the scene

Nassau and Suffolk police respond to the scene of a two-vehicle accident in Farmingdale on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The crash happened shortly after midnight on Conklin Street near Staples Street, police said. Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

ALBANY -- The state will install new radar technology and consider lane modifications and new traffic signals along a Farmingdale street that was the site of a quintuple fatality less than a week ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.

The governor, in a letter to Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, said it was "clear that more must be done to help ensure the safety of drivers and residents in the area around Conklin Street." Cuomo noted the "entire community" of Farmingdale "has been shaken by this tragedy."

Five teenagers were in a sedan heading west on Conklin Street just after midnight last Friday when it crossed into the eastbound lanes and collided with a sport-utility vehicle near Staples Street, Nassau County police said. Three teens died at the scene and two died later at a local hospital. The SUV driver and a passenger were hospitalized and expected to recover. Police are still investigating the cause.

Though the case is ongoing, Cuomo said the state will take some immediate steps. Primarily, the state will install radar devices along Conklin that, when triggered by a speeding vehicle, will switch upcoming traffic lights to red -- theoretically compelling drivers to come to a stop. The first such radar device will be installed in a few weeks near the intersection of Conklin and Walnut streets.

The state also will park two trailers along Conklin that read and display motorists' current speed, encouraging them to obey speed limits.

The state will review the idea of modifying lane configurations along Conklin and conduct a review to determine if other changes are needed in the area, including adding traffic signals. It also will consider "measures to warn of the dangers of drag racing," the governor wrote.

Local residents have called the area near the accident a "speed strip."

"As a father of three daughters who drive, I know all too well the importance of keeping our roads safe," Cuomo wrote. "Local law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this terrible incident, and the state stands ready to offer any assistance they may require."

Ekstrand had written to Cuomo a few days earlier, asking for state input.

"This heavily traveled road needs to be surveyed for repairs and replacement, where needed, and evaluated for the installation of traffic calming measures," Ekstrand wrote Monday.

Village Administrator Brian Harty fielded questions for Ekstrand Thursday, but declined to weigh in on the traffic issues just yet.

"Out of respect for the families, we don't want to talk about that at this point," Harty said. "But we will in the near future."

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