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Letter: Keep safe streets, transit in bill

A pedestrian prepares to cross the intersection of

A pedestrian prepares to cross the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and North Franklin Street on Jan. 10, 2012. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

For the fourth time since 2008, Hempstead Turnpike has won the great (dis)honor of being the most dangerous road for pedestrians in the region ["Deadly roads for LI pedestrians," News, March 8]. With 15 pedestrians killed by vehicles in three years on the turnpike, local leaders are right to look for solutions and calm traffic.

Unfortunately, a stalemate in Congress puts initiatives like this at risk. Supporters of transit and pedestrian safety have been fighting for more equitable funding formulas introduced into a long-term transportation bill -- one that would reflect the growing numbers of walkers, bikers and transit users.

So when the House of Representatives introduced its now-defeated version of a five-year surface transportation bill, pedestrian-safety supporters were floored that not only was equitable funding not in place, but the bill actually removed dedicated transit funding, eliminated pedestrian safety programs and removed local control over transportation funding sources. Municipalities would lose access to safety programs like Safe Routes to Schools and Transportation Enhancements, and New York State could lose nearly half of its transit funding, about $1.7 billion.

After a massive outcry, House leaders said they would go back to the drawing board. The Senate's version of the bill -- a two-year, $109-billion package -- is more on track.

Eric Alexander, Hempstead

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit advocate for smart growth.