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Herricks Road: Crunch Zone

Traffic divider missing a safety feature?

Mineola resident George Sommer can never forget the morning in 1982, when he awoke to learn that nine teenagers had been killed when a van in which they were riding was struck by an LIRR train at the now defunct Herricks Road train crossing, after the van’s driver went around lowered gates. 

Sommer’s son was supposed to be with them in the van, but Sommer kept him home to do school work.

Although the crossing is now raised and is no longer a danger to errant drivers, Sommer, who was a highway engineer, believes one fatal flaw remains: the lack of a “crash cushion” at the south end of the traffic divider.

The area, which had once been named the most dangerous in the country by the National Transportation Safety Board, prompted the Long Island Rail Road to raise the track in 1994. The $25 million project was completed in 1999. An NTSB report also said that the van’s driver had “driven around a properly functioning lowered gate with flashing lights onto the crossing.”

For more than a decade prior, the crossing was “popular” for its traffic jams and impatient drivers.

“I wanted [the schoolwork] done and if he got it done during the week, he’d have Friday off,” Sommer said. “He didn’t and so I kept him home. He didn’t give me a hard time. The following morning I woke up and heard the commotion.”

Sommer recognized some movement, but feels much is left to be done.

“They removed all the shredded guardrails, the metal guardrails on either side of the barrier,” he said. “All the crumbled stuff underneath and the three or four orange barrels were previously positioned.”

Crash cushions serve as a velocity dampener to crashing cars. According to Sommer, they absorb the shockwaves and prevent cars from converging on the other side of the road.

“I see a risk there that was never taken care of,” he said. “I know from experience where we put these crash cushions to eliminate any dangerous action when a car goes errant or someone gets killed or maimed.”

Herricks Road is a Nassau County road and is subject to county jurisdiction. According to spokesman Michael Martino, when the road markings at the underpass are complete within the next week, crash attenuators will be put in place. He confirmed that county road maintenance crews would monitor the condition of the attenuators on a regular basis.


News

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



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