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Stony Brook ‘sidewalk to nowhere’ must expand, officials say

A view of where the sidewalk abruptly ends

A view of where the sidewalk abruptly ends along North Country Road near the Stony Brook LIRR train station in Stony Brook, July 26, 2017. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Stony Brook community leaders and Brookhaven Town officials are asking state officials to make the “sidewalk to nowhere” go somewhere.

Residents and town officials say a sidewalk that ends abruptly along state Route 25A, just west of a Long Island Rail Road station, should be extended west by about 1.25 miles to Stony Brook Road. They say the state road is dangerous because pedestrians have little choice but to walk in the street.

A Stony Brook University doctoral student, Artem G. Ayzen, 25, was killed on Route 25A in 2014 when he was struck by an SUV while he was in-line skating. Three pedestrians have been injured in separate incidents on the road in recent years, officials said.

The state Department of Transportation in 2014 built 5,000 feet of sidewalk on Route 25A, between Hawkins Road and Nicolls Road. Some residents refer to the paved footpath as the “sidewalk to nowhere” because it ends suddenly west of the train station.

DOT officials have said extending the sidewalk would be too expensive. In a June 28 letter to Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, DOT regional director Joseph T. Brown said the project would cost about $5 million and “does not appear to be feasible at this time.”

Romaine rejected that argument.

“That road is very, very dangerous,” he said in an interview. “They need to start focusing in on making this a priority.”

DOT officials said in a statement they would “continue to investigate this matter and remain in contact with” town officials.

Route 25A, also known as North Country Road, is a two-lane highway that runs along the northern border of the Stony Brook University campus. Students from the campus often cross the street to get to shops and restaurants on the north side of the road.

“It’s unbelievable that at any time of day or night ... there’s a tremendous number of students walking on the road, and there’s nowhere for them to walk,” said Jonathan Kornreich, president of the Three Village Civic Association and a member of the Three Village school board.

Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) said adding sidewalks “is just common sense and elementary logic,” because of the danger the road poses to pedestrians.

“On rainy nights or inclement weather in the winter, that’s really dangerous,” he said. “It’s not only dangerous to the students, it’s dangerous to motorists.”

Gloria Rocchio, president of the nonprofit Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which owns a nearby shopping center, said it is only a matter of time before another tragedy occurs on the road.

“It’s very narrow there, and someday somebody is going to be hit,” she said.

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