Written by Farmingdale Observer Staff Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Following the tragedy that befell the Farmingdale community last May, when five teenagers died in a car wreck along Conklin Street, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to improve safety and slow traffic down along Rt. 24 and Conklin Street.
“As the father of three young daughters who drive, I know firsthand the importance of keeping our roads safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “Implementing these safety precautions on Conklin Street will bring traffic speeds to safer levels and help reduce both the number and the severity of crashes in the area.”
Now, almost two months later, Cuomo has announced the New York State Department of Transportation’s plans of a “road diet.”
While this diet doesn’t involve cutting any carbs, it will reduce the roadway from four lanes to just two lanes, with one lane going in each direction. The reductions will be along Conklin, from
Secatogue to Birch Avenues. In addition, the diet includes a 15-foot two-way left turn lane that will be added in the center of the roadway, with no loss of on-street parking.
“We are moving quickly to address safety issues along Conklin Street in Farmingdale,” said DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald. “At the Governor’s direction, we will continue to monitor these safety enhancements and make adjustments as needed.”
According to the Cuomo camp, “road diets” are an effective and inexpensive way to calm traffic and is one of nine proven safety countermeasures recommended by the Federal Highway Administration.
After the accident, Cuomo directed the installation of new radar technology at the corner of Conklin and Walnut Streets. The system uses radar to detect speeding vehicles and switches a connected traffic signal to red, forcing the driver to stop. NYSDOT also installed two speed control trailers along Conklin Street, which notify motorists of their speed and encourage them to obey speed limits.
By increasing a driver’s compliance with the posted speed limit, the thinking is drivers will reduce their speed, which in turn would reduce the severity of any future accidents along Conklin Street.
Republican state Sen. Kemp Hannon said that the state will continue to monitor the outcome of the changes to determine if there is any need for additional precautions.
“Using a combination of physical lane changes and technological innovations for speed detection and traffic signal responses, Gov. Cuomo’s actions will benefit the safety of all residents,” Hannon said.
The “road diet” will be conducted as part of a project to resurface Rt. 24 between the Meadowbrook Parkway and Rt. 110. Once the paving is complete, the road will be restriped in the new configuration, which is expected to be complete by the end of November 2014.
“As Mayor I applaud Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner McDonald and her staff for taking the time to have the traffic engineers assess the situation and make needed changes to assure the safety of our residents,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. “This was done very quickly and I extend my thanks.”