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Teen pedestrian's death on Route 25A in Miller Place renews concern about safety of 5-lane highway

Suffolk County police investigate a motor-vehicle crash that

Suffolk County police investigate a motor-vehicle crash that killed John Luke, 16, of Miller Place, on Route 25A in Miller Place at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Credit: Stringer News / AJ Ryan

The death this month of a teenager who was struck and killed while crossing state Route 25A in Miller Place has renewed worries that the road remains dangerous, despite efforts to make it safer.

Residents and merchants said the five-lane highway in a busy commercial corridor has seen a rash of crashes in recent years, even after New York State Department of Transportation officials added safety features such as manually operated pedestrian crossing signals.

Some residents said their worst fears were confirmed on May 5, when John Luke, 16, of Miller Place, was struck and killed while walking across Route 25A at Miller Place Road. The driver of the car that struck Luke was not charged. Police said Luke may have been crossing against traffic.

DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said additional improvements may be considered when Suffolk County police complete their investigation into Luke's death. A police spokesman said the investigation was ongoing.

Many residents blame traffic congestion and speeding drivers for accidents. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.

"Especially the summertime here -- bad intersection," said Arshad Ali, the manager of a BP gas station near where Luke was killed. Ali said he has seen many dangerous encounters between drivers and pedestrians.

A driver "pays attention on the road, not to the pedestrians," he said.

Suffolk police said in the first four months of this year there were 49 motor vehicle accidents -- an average of nearly three per week -- on Route 25A between Rocky Point-Yaphank Road in Rocky Point and Miller Place Road.

Formerly a two-lane road, Route 25A was expanded to five lanes about 25 years ago as the area's population grew. Some say increased traffic has led to more accidents.

"We don't want to urbanize the area, but we have to find things that work for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic," Miller Place resident Drew Martin said. "We're pretending to be in the country, but we're really not."

State DOT officials added new lane and center median markings after a 2013 study of the highway, which is used by 48,000 vehicles a day. State and community officials have discussed adding "traffic calming" measures such as raised center medians or pedestrian bridges to improve safety.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner said some residents expressed reservations about those plans.

"Nobody's driving the speed limit. If you're driving the speed limit, they're tailgating you," Bonner said. "The big question is, how do you correct bad driver behavior?"

Rob Fitton of Miller Place said more traffic lights might slow drivers.

"When you get on those long roads and there's no lights, people have a tendency to drive too fast," he said. "It's a very dangerous area."


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