FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2012
SCHUMER LEGISLATION INCREASING NYS HIGHWAY SAFETY FUNDING PASSES SENATE; WOULD ADD $57 MILLION TO STATE FUNDING POT THAT SCHUMER WANTS DIRECTED TO L.I.E. AND HEMPSTEAD TURNPIKE FOR SAFETY
Newsday Investigation Earlier This Year Found At Least 36 Pedestrians Were Killed on Hempstead Turnpike from 2005-2012; Schumer-Pushed LIE Safety Audit After Multiple Police Officers Stuck on Highway
Schumer Bill Increases New York’s Share of Road Safety Funding from $41 Million to $99 Million
Schumer: Safety Funding Will Protect Pedestrians and Police Officers on Two Dangerous Long Island Roadways
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Surface Transportation Safety Bill, which passed both houses of Congress will more-than-double highway safety improvement program funds for New York State, and provide a funding boost for efforts to conduct safety upgrades to both the Hempstead Turnpike and Long Island Expressway (L.I.E.). Schumer is urging the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to target the funding to much-needed safety improvements on both the LIE and Hempstead Turnpike.
“The deadly and dangerous histories of both the Hempstead Turnpike and Long Island Expressway demand that we put in place safety improvements to protect pedestrians and police officers, and this funding will help do that,” said Schumer. “That’s why I fought hard for this funding. Let’s put this new road safety funding to use on the LIE and Hempstead Turnpike to save lives today.”
A Newsday investigation into the dangers of the Hempstead Turnpike found that it was much more dangerous than comparable roads on Long Island with 36 people being killed on the deadly road between 2005 and February 2012. Additionally, at least 25 police officers have been the victims of collisions on the LIE during routine traffic stops over the last ten years, according to the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association. Schumer toured dangerous locations on the LIE with officers in March of 2011.
While the New York State Department of Transportation has stated that it would begin to identify both short and long term solutions to increase the roadways safety, the agency noted that funding streams are limited. The Surface Transportation Safety Bill will increase New York’s share of funding through the Highway Safety Improvement Program from $41 million in FY 2011 to $99 million in FY 2014.
Traffic experts agree on the solutions needed to make Hempstead safer, including new traffic signals, signal timing, fencing, bus stops, pedestrian islands, medians, extending sidewalks, landscaping, and education. However, revamping the Turnpike would be very expensive, with some redesign estimates ranging from $100 million to $200 million. While NYSDOT has announced that it will begin examining both short and long term solutions to increase the safety of the roadway, the agency has pointed out that funding for such an effort is limited. Schumer’s effort will provide a funding shot in the arm for New York State and help cover some of the costs of the upgrades.
An L.I.E road safety audit that Schumer was able to get the Federal Highway Administration to conduct, called for, among the many recommendations: construction of emergency pull off locations at select locations; installation of additional lighting on ramps and merging points; installation of reflectors on guiderails and barriers for supplemental roadway delineation; paving or stabilizing of dangerous road edge drop-offs; installation of cameras to monitor the corridor; and construct a ramp from the Northern State Parkway (Exit 38) on the north side of the LIE.
“This funding will provide a significant boost in available funding for safety upgrades to New York highways and it should be targeted to these roads, which have proven to some of the deadliest in New York,” said Schumer.