SCHUMER CALLS FOR FEDERAL SAFETY AUDIT ON LONG ISLAND’S ‘DEADLIEST ROADS,’ INCLUDING ROUTES 25 & 27; JERICHO TURNPIKE & MIDDLE COUNTY ROAD—ALONE—HAVE LOGGED DOZENS OF DEATHS WITH FED SAFETY ADMIN; SENATOR SAYS AUDIT COULD DRIVE CRITICAL TRANSPO/SAFETY FUNDS—HE’LL PUSH FOR—TO LI
Schumer Unveils Formal Call To Feds For A “Road Safety Audit” Based On Findings In Recent Analysis That Detailed LI Crashes, Dangers Over A 4-Year Span; Feds Would Work With State & Locals, Take Fresh Look At Road/Intersections, Traffic Flow, As Well As Other Characteristics To Identify Safety Improvements—Like Installing Crash Attenuators, Signals, Dealing With Speed & More
Schumer Will Reveal That Recently-Passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill He Led Through Congress Could Help Fund Improvements That Also Support Local Safety Measures
Schumer: Feds Can Help Drive Safety Improvements & Ideas On Some Of LI’s Deadliest Roads
On the heels of a 4-year crash analysis by Newsday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called for a federal safety audit on Long Island’s deadliest roads, including Routes 25 and 27. Schumer unveiled an official and formal request to the federal DOT that cites the recent analysis and urged action. Schumer announced how an audit’s finding could drive fed funds to the Island in the name of transportation safety. He also explained how he led the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill through the Senate with Long Island in mind and detailed the kinds of funds that could help pay for improvements that an audit might call for.
“This is a big Island with a lot of roads and a lot of people, and we do all we can to keep our people safe, but when accidents do happen, we try and find out why and we try and prevent them from happening again. We are here today because we have seen the data in the recent Newsday analysis, which is federal data that we applaud the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for collecting. This data drives home one main point: dozens of deaths in and around the same place demand we do more to understand what’s going on so we can lower the numbers and subsequently save lives,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“Today, I am calling on the feds to work with the state and locals here on conducting a formal federal safety audit. The federal audit would take into account the hard work and the data already derived by locals, but could and most often does, glean more information we can use to direct federal funds towards effective safety improvements. I am also announcing federal funds that I have worked to appropriate that could help fund a myriad of improvements, including a new federal grant program called ‘Safe Streets for All,’ which I negotiated into the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This is a $5 billion national pot and I’m here to say: Long Island could tap it,” Schumer added.
Schumer said a federal Road Safety Audit (RSA) would analyze the roads/intersections, including the design of the roads, the traffic flow and mix, and other characteristics, and identify possible safety improvements, like installing crash attenuators and dealing with speed. Schumer was joined by Mayor Christopher Devane of New Hyde Park, NYS Senator Anna Kaplan and local safety advocates who will back his push, as well as LI Families from ‘Safe Streets.’
Newsday has reported that more people died in traffic crashes on state routes 25 and 27 than on any other roads on Long Island from 2016 to 2020. There were 62 deaths on State Route 25 and 61 traffic related deaths on Route 27. Furthermore, 65 people were killed on State Route 25A, Suffolk County Route 80 and the western portion of State Route 24.
Schumer said the RSA in particular is an important measure that would augment local community efforts by providing the fed’s technical expertise to supplement the steps already taken locally to improve the safety of many roadways and intersections. Schumer said the audit would aim to identify the best ways to make dangerous roads and intersection safer for the long term. RSAs are conducted by the FHWA in partnership with state Departments of Transportation and other stakeholders to identify safety hazards and develop recommendations for overall safety improvements to highways.
An RSA is a formal process that consists, among other elements, of selecting an RSA team and stakeholders, performing field reviews, conducting an analysis and preparing an RSA report. This report then presents and incorporates findings from the audit into a final project to increase safety. Schumer said the goal is to have FHWA work with all due speed alongside the NYSDOT and local communities to conduct an audit, and identify possible safety improvements. According to the FHWA, RSAs can be used in any phase of project development, from planning and preliminary engineering, to design and construction. RSAs can also be used on any sized project from minor intersection and roadway retrofits to mega-projects.
“The good news is an effort like this can be impactful because locals and the state have done such good work already. My main job is to help fund the improvements derived from an audit with federal dollars I have already negotiated and appropriated,” Schumer added.
Schumer revealed the funding pots available relevant to his road safety push and pledged a push to help locals tap the ones most viable to deal with this local road safety issue. In addition, Schumer revealed that a brand new program he negotiated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), called Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides yet another funding stream that could play a part in funding improvements that locals deem critical to safety. These funding streams include:
- Federal formula HSIP (Highway Safety Improvement Program): approximately $640.7 million over 5 years for New York State. This funding can be used to conduct the Road Safety Audit; this is formula highway funding that FHWA gives to NYSDOT each year through BIL. HSIP can also be used to make the infrastructure safety improvements identified in any analysis, as can other pots of formula highway funding.
- Federal formula STBG (Surface Transportation Block Grant) Program: $2.891 billion over 5 years. About 10% of this total is set-aside specifically for Transportation Alternatives (bike/ped) funding, though more than 10% can be used for those types of projects.
- RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) Program: $7.5 billion for RAISE is included in BIL, and an additional $775 million was added in the FY22 Appropriations Law. This is a popular competitive program that locals can apply for. Grants can be awarded for planning or construction.
- Safe Streets for All: $5 billion over 5 years. This is a new competitive program from BIL. It can fund creation of safety action plans, or implementation of safety action plan features.
"The main roads we Long Islanders travel each day have become the scene of a stunning level of tragedy, claiming far too many lives, and getting worse year after year. Long Islanders deserve roads that aren't just smooth, but safe as well, so I join Senator Schumer in calling for a federal safety audit of our most dangerous roads, and I'm grateful for his leadership on this issue,” said NYS Senator Anna M. Kaplan.
“The Village of New Hyde Park’s main corridor, Jericho Turnpike, has been the scene of many traffic tragedies. Within the last year, our community has witnessed a triple fatality at one location. Over the last 7 weeks, there have been 4 pedestrians struck in 3 separate incidents, including a Mother and her son, who is a 1st grader, on their way to school. Within our limited jurisdiction, the Village has done what we can to promote safety. There is more that is needed to be done. We are so grateful to Senator Schumer for his leadership in calling for an audit of Jericho Turnpike and additional funding for safety improvements. His efforts to implement these measures will benefit our community and ultimately, save lives. The Village of New Hyde Park thanks Senator Schumer,” said Village of New Hyde Park Mayor Christopher Devane.
"Long Island has some of the most dangerous roadways for pedestrians and bicyclists in New York leading to tragic crashes and fatalities. Design solutions can be employed to make these roadways more walkable and bikeable while reducing vehicle speeds through the downtowns these streets intersect. Kudos to Senator Schumer for helping create safely designed roads that will both save lives and improve the quality of life in our local communities,” said Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island.
“My son Andrew should still be alive today, but as long as roads like the Hempstead Turnpike are designed for speed, tragedy after tragedy will continue to occur,” said Families for Safe Streets member Diana Alati, whose 13-year-old son Andrew was killed while biking in 2019. “No family should have to experience the pain of traffic violence and we are proud to join today with Senator Schumer to call for a safety audit on Long Island’s deadliest roads.”
Schumer’s formal letter to Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration regarding his road safety push appears below:
Dear Acting Administrator Pollack:
I write to urge the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to work with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and local officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties to address roadway safety throughout several stretches of road on Long Island.
A recent Newsday report detailed concerning data obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the number of crashes and road deaths on roads on Long Island. According to the report, the five deadliest roads, excluding expressways and parkways from the analysis, had a combined total of fatalities of 188 drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists from 2016 – 2020. In addition, these roads also had the highest rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicles of all the roads analyzed on Long Island. These include:
- NY State Route 25 with 62 fatalities, including 18 pedestrians and four cyclists;
- NY State Route 27 with 61 fatalities, including 22 pedestrians and three cyclists;
- NY State Route 25A with 26 fatalities, including five pedestrians and one a cyclist;
- Suffolk County Route 80 with 20 fatalities, including two pedestrians and one cyclist;
- NY State Route 24 with 19 total fatalities, including eight pedestrians and two cyclists.
These five routes weave their way across Long Island, and in many communities they are designed as wide routes that both attempt to serve as a street, meant to facilitate commerce and daily life by connecting drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to shops and businesses, and a road, meant purely to facilitate swift throughput of cars. Indeed, this combination of activity has led to the high number of incidents and fatalities in the past few years.
Fortunately, New York State Department of Transportation and local communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties have taken, and continue to take, steps to improve the safety of many of these roadways and intersections. However, it is clear that challenges remain, and federal expertise and resources can help address the issue by identifying the areas that are most in need of improvements, develop recommendations, and help communities implement the needed safety measures. I urge FHWA to work with local stakeholders on this issue, and to conduct Road Safety Audits as needed. Road Safety Audits would examine and analyze the roadways or key intersections along them, studying road design, mix and flow of traffic, as well as other characteristics, and identify possible safety improvements.
I applaud the state and the local communities’ efforts so far and urge FHWA to stand with them and any requests they have to further help improve these roadways.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important request.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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