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Coalition plan aims to make dangerous Long Island roads safer

Jiovanna Bennaeim, of Great Neck, speaks about loss

Jiovanna Bennaeim, of Great Neck, speaks about loss of her husband, at a news conference on Main Street in Farmingdale on Thursday, July 6, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

Pedestrian and traffic safety advocates unveiled a new plan Thursday aiming at making Long Island’s roadways safer.

The Long Island Complete Streets Coalition’s new plan focuses on road design, engineering and speed in targeted communities where crashes are common, what advocates call safety “hot spots.” The news conference was held near the intersection of Main Street and Route 109 in Farmingdale, where a teenage girl was killed in a car crash last month.

“Hot spots” on Long Island include Route 25A in Miller Place, Route 110 in Huntington Station, Route 109 in Farmingdale, Routes 106 and 107 in Hicksville and Route 27 Sunrise Highway between Freeport and Valley Stream, the coalition said.

Many of the roads on Long Island were designed for vehicles to be able to drive 60 or 70 miles per hour, but are in what are now commercialized areas, said Eric Alexander, who is the director of Vision Long Island, a community planning organization.

Strategies in the coalition’s 10-pillar plan include addressing this issue of road design, narrowing roads to shorten crossing distance for pedestrians and implementing bike lanes.

“This stuff is tried, true and tested,” Alexander said.

Karen Montalbano, president of the Baldwin Civic Association, cited Sunrise Highway as a major issue in Baldwin, saying some people feel more comfortable crossing in the middle of the street rather than at the light.

“We need to make this safe for people who are traveling, whether they’re using four wheels, two wheels or two feet,” Montalbano said.

Jivanna Bennaeim’s husband Oren was hit and killed by a speeding car at the age of 43 while crossing a street in their hometown of Great Neck in 2016.

“If there were speed bumps or something, even a red light camera, they would have caught the driver and I don’t think people would speed,” Bennaeim said. “My hope is that this conversation makes people aware and changes start to happen.”

Alexander said the coalition hopes their 10-pillar action plan will be implemented in “hot spots” in both Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as at the state level.

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