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Coming LIE rest stop is a limited win for travelers

A cleared plot of land along the Long

A cleared plot of land along the Long Island Expressway between exits 51 and 52 in Dix Hills on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

There’s good news for travelers on the Long Island Expressway, but only if they don’t travel in big groups.

Work is due to begin Monday on the highway’s first roadside rest stop. It will be located on the eastbound side between Exits 51 and 52 in Dix Hills. The location will feature 135 parking spaces, restrooms, vending machines for drinks and snacks, and a Taste of New York store to sell and market Empire State products, especially local ones.

Work space for Suffolk County and state police was added to the plan to mollify local opposition to the rest stop. There will be two electric-car charging ports, but the stop won’t sell gasoline because a state law forbids it. Nor will the stop allow trucks or buses to enter. Soon truck drivers will be directed to sites with portable toilets at existing state Department of Transportation facilities at Exit 56 westbound and Exit 66 eastbound. However, buses, including those carrying student sports teams and clubs, will still have to get off the Expressway to fulfill their needs, or worse, stop by the side of the road.

The rest stop is a step forward. An attempt 10 years ago to put a similar facility at this location fell flat, and work to begin building this one without public input last year infuriated residents. This time DOT officials met with a small group of concerned residents and ended up with this reduced version that won’t permit more passengers than can fit in a van. Eliminating spaces for trucks and buses is a shame. Two walls and many other restrictions will protect neighbors’ property.

Making driving on Long Island better requires welcoming facilities, which are generally no more noisy or troublesome for neighbors than the roads themselves. — The editorial board