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Long Island’s highways need rest stops

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

The Long Island Expressway badly needs high-quality rest stops where travelers can use the restroom or grab a snack. Right now, the fight is over one proposed stop but the highway needs more than one in both directions.

A move to create a facility between Exits 51 and 52 on the eastbound side in Dix Hills at what is now a “text stop” blew up last August because the state Department of Transportation started cutting down trees for the project without informing local residents. The plan included 200 parking spots, room for four buses and a 9,000-square-foot Taste of New York store. The complaints were legitimate then. A similar plan had been opposed in 2006, and on Long Island, you don’t cast a shadow without getting community buy-in, much less build a rest stop.

Now, however, local state legislators complain that the plan is moving ahead even though they have not been briefed. But this wave of outrage seems overblown. The DOT briefed Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone recently, and the state never claimed it had given up the idea, so it’s not a secret. The project hasn’t actually started and the DOT says it’s still seeking input, so the legislators simply hadn’t been briefed yet.

Judge the plan on its merits. Long Island’s highways lack rest stops, which only adds to the considerable misery of traveling these roads. — The editorial board