Providing safe and well-maintained roads is among the most fundamental responsibilities of local government, and Nassau County is falling short.
A backlog of complaints about unsafe intersections and roadways, with almost 1,300 files from residents for everything from huge road redesigns to small requests for freshly painted lines and new signs, waits to be addressed. Federal and state laws say the county must respond to every complaint by at least studying the area in question to see whether it has shortcomings. And anyone who drives in Nassau knows some intersections are dangerous and that many roads are in bone-rattling need of repaving or repair.
The county says it has had a hard time hiring engineers thanks to a hot economy, but is now staffed up for those positions and will use five private sector firms to help knock down the backlog. Officials say they believe they can get a handle on it in six to nine months. Two websites going live Wednesday might help. One site will tell people which municipality is responsible for any particular road in the county. The other will list the schedule for paving county roads and have a history of when a road was last paved, starting from 2018. The county says there is a huge push to increase paving projects, with more than 200 miles scheduled this year — triple the pace of recent years at a cost of $90 million.
These are good moves in response to problems, accumulating over the past decade, that never should have been allowed to get so bad. Still, the county simply must be faster at addressing and fixing its most dangerous intersections, where poor designs and conditions can cause deadly accidents. If not addressed, these complaints can leave the county with tremendous legal liability. — The editorial board