Progress in the effort to make Hempstead Turnpike safer sometimes seems as fitful as rush-hour traffic on the heavily traveled artery. So we welcome recently announced changes to be made to a dangerous stretch of Conklin Street in Farmingdale.
But it's a pity that these long-overdue measures are being implemented only after the deaths of five teenagers in a horrendous accident on that road in May.
Residents and elected officials have complained for years about speeding on a three-quarter-mile stretch of Conklin Street between Route 110 and downtown Farmingdale Village, and have requested some kind of remediation.
In the early morning hours on May 10, the five teens were driving west when their car crossed into the eastbound lanes and hit a sport utility vehicle. All died, three at the scene and two at a hospital.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo referenced the tragedy in directing the state Department of Transportation to reconfigure part of the roadway from four lanes to two, with a left-turn lane in the center. Similar measures have been effective in slowing traffic in other places.
Another move announced immediately after the crash -- the installation of radar that detects a speeding car and switches a designated traffic light to red to stop the driver -- also has worked, according to village officials.
Maximum safety also requires safer behaviors and less-risky decision-making by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. The engineering tweaks are promising because they should encourage such practices. We only wish the state transportation department would exhibit more urgency and make changes before tragedies occur, not after.