County exec getting traffic light added to busy Woodmere intersection

John Asbury for Newsday

Originally published in Newsday

Nassau County officials plan to add a traffic light at a busy intersection in Woodmere along Peninsula Boulevard that is heavily used both by pedestrians and truck traffic.

Bruce Blakeman, the county executive, said the traffic light at Edward Avenue was long overdue and needed by the large number of people who cross the street, as well as heavy truck traffic that cuts through the Five Towns.

Blakeman said he has been fielding calls from residents concerned about the safety of residents crossing the street, especially during Shabbos on Saturdays.

"There’s a lot of traffic in this area and there are more pedestrians than other areas nearby," Blakeman said. "On the Sabbath, people walk to synagogue and a lot of young people live on the south side of Peninsula to cross the four-lane highway to go to school. It’s something we’ve looked at in the past and I asked for the engineering department to put a fresh set of eyes on it."

Officials said they expect the traffic light to be installed in the next four to six weeks.

The intersection is also where a 15-year-old Great Neck girl was killed in December when the vehicle she was in collided with one driven by a West Hempstead man who was charged with driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter.

Blakeman said traffic engineers said a traffic light would not have affected the outcome of the crash.

The main concerns on the street are from speeding trucks rounding the curve on Peninsula. Blakeman said the road serves as one of the few major thoroughfares through the Five Towns between Rockaway Turnpike and Sunrise Highway.

He said very few of the trucks were making local deliveries and many were part of airport traffic from Kennedy Airport to Long Island, along with fuel trucks from a fuel depot in Inwood.

"This highly trafficked thoroughfare has long posed a hazard to pedestrians," Legis. Denise Ford said.

The county was further spurred to take action following a tanker truck that crashed and spilled thousands of gallons of fuel on Sunrise Highway in Rockville Centre.

"When you see the havoc of that accident and the environmental issues with an explosion, that was another factor in taking another look at this," Blakeman said.

Blakeman has joined other local and state officials advocating for a traffic light on the street.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) called on the county to add a light at the intersection near a blind curve following the death a pedestrian in a December and another death in 2019.

Blakeman said he had previously sought a traffic light at the intersection when he was a Hempstead Town councilman, but was turned down, citing costs or traffic studies that found it wasn’t necessary. He said the traffic light will be covered by the county’s capital budget.

"This traffic light is something that the community has been requesting for quite some time," said Deputy presiding officer Legis. Howard Kopel.

"Too many people have lost their lives at this dangerous intersection and I am thankful to the County Executive and his team for their prompt and welcome response to this critical situation."