Emergency responders argue medians installed along Route 110 in Huntington Station are having a negative impact on response times and the comfort of patients riding in ambulances, but state officials say pedestrian safety is a priority.
Officials from the Huntington Community First Aid Squad and the Huntington Manor and Melville fire departments have repeatedly asked the state Department of Transportation to remove the medians that were installed in 2019, but have received limited response.
The five medians were placed just north of Jericho Turnpike to Depot Road, including one in front of the Huntington Manor Fire Department.
“We want the pedestrians to be safe too, but put it in a safe place for pedestrians,” Christopher Fusaro, Huntington Manor fire district board of commissioners chairman, said. “Would you think of crossing on the corner of the street or walking to the middle of the street for crossing?”
DOT officials said raised highway medians are a proven technique that make pedestrians more visible to drivers and provides them a safe refuge while crossing the street.
The medians are part of systemic improvements started in 2016 that will continue through the end of this year.
“Safety is our top priority,” DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri said in a statement. “These enhancements, which incorporated feedback from the community including the fire departments, included new crosswalks, raised concrete medians, concrete bump outs, traffic signal improvements, and more signage.”
Both sides said the original plan was revised to reduce the height of the medians, but emergency responders said it wasn't enough and the state proceeded with its plan.
Huntington Community First Aid Squad Chief Michael Como said Route 110 is a difficult route for crews to traverse on any given day but especially during rush hours.
“The middle area is where we would go if there were cars blocking both lanes,” Como said. “Now we have to wait for cars to move so it’s slowing down response times.”
Melville Fire Chief David Kaplan said his department's emergency vehicles are up and down Route 110 in that area about twice a day to get to Huntington Hospital.
“We firmly believe these medians are creating a problem with wear and tear on our vehicles, longer response time slowing us up, an issue with patient care and potential risk to our members as we have to go around or over them creating a bumpy environment,” Kaplan said.
State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) and Assemb. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) are lobbying the DOT on behalf of the departments.
Stern said it was "unacceptable" that regional and state DOT officials failed to fully address the initial and subsequent concerns of the first responders.
“There has to be a dialogue on making appropriate changes,” he said.
Gaughran said a solution has to encompass "pedestrian safety needs and the needs to make sure our volunteers are safe driving back and forth to the hospital."
Willie Perez, a Huntington Station community leader who lives in the area, said he sees the two sides of the argument.
“Everybody wants to be safe,” he said. “There has to be a solution to address both needs.”
Meeting in the median
There are five medians on Route 110 in Huntington Station just north of Jericho Turnpike to Depot Road.
They are between:
- 18th and 17th streets
- 13th and 12th streets
- 12th and 11th streets
- 11th and 10th streets
- At Depot Road