Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00
Nassau County is going to reevaluate its plan to install a red light camera on Jericho Turnpike near New Hyde Park Road after village officials noted traffic backup near a Long Island Rail Road crossing just south of the proposed site.
Nassau County Traffic and Safety Coordinator Chris Mistron said accident studies are conducted at proposed sites to determine the need for a camera. However, this particular site needs more vetting.
“Right now, I don’t know if we are going to proceed with that location,” he said. “We’re going to do a reevaluation.”
Mistron said the county was not aware of traffic backup near the train crossing. “We’re going to have to investigate that,” Mistron stated.
There are 76 locations with red light cameras in Nassau County. Only 100 are allowed by state law.
While Nassau County is not required to notify municipalities when it erects red light cameras near state roads, New Hyde Park Village Mayor Robert Lofaro would have liked a heads up. He expressed as much at last weeks board meeting, saying the construction of a camera near that intersection would cause more problems than needed.
The village would have no control over the cameras, which are a county-run operation. Lofaro said he received a notice on Thursday, Nov. 14 that New York State and the county were having a pre-construction meeting at the proposed camera site. The village did not receive formal notification of the meeting.
Construction crews were out on Saturday, Nov. 16. As of press time, the anchoring mechanisms were in place for the cameras. Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions is the main contractor for the project and did not return calls for comment.
“We would have liked to have had some input to whether this was a wise idea or not,” Lofaro said.
Lofaro was very concerned with the Long Island Rail Road crossing south of the turnpike on New Hyde Park road. The street gets backed up south near the train tracks during heavy drive times.
“It’s my opinion that because of the at-grade [train] crossing...I’m not necessarily against red light cameras, but I just think this is a bad intersection to have it at,” he said. “When there’s problems with the [crossing] gates, when the trains run slow, there is a backup that occurs.”
Trustee Donald Barbieri thought otherwise. While he acknowledges the train issue, he feels the camera would halt traffic infractions.
“Since do you not stop at red lights or stop signs? That seems to be too prevalent,” he said. “I’m not opposed to that type of device being installed. It could create a safer environment.”
Lofaro argued that the village could incur a loss of revenue, with the county handling red light tickets, rather than wrongdoers coming before the village court for the summons. Trustee Donna Squicciarino said she was “indifferent.” She called the intersection “hazardous” and that cars “rush through the light.”
“In terms of revenue, we don’t patrol that intersection heavily,” she said. How much revenue does that even generate for us? How much would we lose?”
Deputy Mayor Lawrence Montreuil aligned with Lofaro against the camera, while trustee Rich Coppolla was not at the meeting, Lofaro said he does not support the camera installation.
“I know [the village] would like us to not [install a camera],” Mistron said. “I can’t say the answer is ‘no’ but we will accommodate any villages request when we can.”