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Construction set for Nesconset road where bicyclist was hit

Father Tom Archer and his sons Tim, left,

Father Tom Archer and his sons Tim, left, and Jack stand on the street corner of Smithtown Boulevard and Sheppard Lane, where his son Benjamin Archer, not pictured, was struck and severely injured six years ago. (April 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Ana Maria Rico

Construction is to begin this summer on safety improvements for a Nesconset road where a teenager was seriously injured six years ago.

A raised concrete median and left-turn lanes will be added to Smithtown Boulevard, County Road 16. The work, which is intended to slow traffic and reduce accidents, is expected to begin within a month or two and should be completed by the end of the year, said Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset).

The highway was the scene of 32 accidents in three years, from January 2007 to December 2009, Kennedy said in a news release. Most of the accidents involved rear-end and right-angle collisions, and crashes in which one driver attempted to overtake another.

Tom Archer of Nesconset, whose son Benjamin was struck by a sport-utility vehicle while riding a bicycle on Smithtown Boulevard in 2007, said the road improvements should "keep somebody else from getting hurt at that corner."

Benjamin, who was 15 when he was injured and is now 20, suffered traumatic brain injury and lives in a nursing home.

"I'm glad that something good came out of Ben getting hurt," Archer said. "We're going to prevent other people from getting hurt."

A consultant hired by Suffolk County to study the road found speeding was a major problem. The consultant, the RBA Group, which has an office in Melville, found that 85 percent of Smithtown Boulevard drivers were driving 45 mph to 49 mph, though the road has a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

Archer, who lives near Smithtown Boulevard, said many drivers go too fast while using the twisting road as a shortcut to avoid taking state Route 347 or the Long Island Expressway. "It's like a sprinter coming out of the blocks," he said.

Left-turn lanes will be created to reduce rear-end collisions where Smithtown Boulevard intersects with Gilbert Avenue and Sheppard Lane. Curb extensions are to be built between Gilbert Avenue and Sheppard Lane.

"It's something the community has called for," Kennedy said, noting that Branch Brook Elementary School is not far from the intersection, on Gilbert Avenue and Ridgely Road. "Moving forward with this configuration is going to bring positive change for motorists in the neighborhood."

The project had been dropped from County Executive Steve Bellone's 2013 capital project budget, in what Bellone said was a cost-cutting move. The legislature restored the funding in a unanimous vote last month.


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