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Changes under way on deadly Smithtown road

Main Street in Smithtown at Lawrence Avenue, where

Main Street in Smithtown at Lawrence Avenue, where state transportation crews will soon work on making repairs on the roadway to improve safety. (May 9, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Crews have begun making changes on Main Street in Smithtown aimed at improving safety on the deadly state road.

One of two westbound lanes will be closed by Friday, and workers are painting new lines to create medians and turning lanes. State authorities believe the lane closure will result in calmer traffic that will reduce accidents on the road, which is part of routes 25 and 25A.

The changes, which were announced last year, were hailed Wednesday by Lavena Sipes of Smithtown, whose 11-year-old daughter, Courtney, was struck by a car and killed three years ago while crossing Main Street near Lawrence Avenue.

Sipes and others believe the state should consider further road renovations, such as roundabouts and closing one eastbound lane. But she said she is satisfied that the state is altering the road.

"It's a reality now. Now, we hopefully have a safer Main Street," Sipes said of the work begun earlier this week. "More needs to be done, but it's a step in the right direction, and it's what they can build on to make it safer."

Since Courtney's death in November 2009, two others -- Charles Doonan, 65, of Flushing, and Seamus Byrne, 33, of Smithtown -- were fatally struck on Main Street.

The state's renovation covers a six-block section of the road in Smithtown's business district. One westbound lane will be closed by the end of the week, and in its place will be left-turn lanes at intersections between state Route 111 and Redwood Avenue/New York Avenue.

Already completed are alterations to traffic signals: lights will turn red in all directions when pedestrians begin to cross; signals at Lawrence and Maple avenues remain red on off-peak hours until a vehicle pulls up to the intersection.

Byrne's mother, Rose Marie of Kings Park, said she hopes the changes work.

"I think anything is better than what was there. Hopefully we won't have any more fatalities there," she said. "Maybe it will prevent it from happening to someone else."

Sipes said she felt safer driving the road this week.

"You feel less anxious going through there," she said.

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