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Hempstead Turnpike Claims More Lives, 'Most Dangerous' Title For Fourth Year

For the fourth consecutive year, Route 24 tops the Tri-State Transportation Council's list of "Most Dangerous Roads for Walking."

The stretch of Hempstead Turnpike that runs through West Hempstead is part of the deadliest roadway in all the Tri-State area.

It probably comes as no surprise to that the turnpike, or Route 24, is a pedestrian's worst nightmare. The Tri-State Transportation Council, which released its latest report on the "Most Dangerous Roads for Walking" in downstate New York, New Jersey and Connecticut earlier this month gave Hempstead Turnpike the title of the worst for the fourth consecutive year.

Since the Council began this initiative, the Turnpike has topped its list, claiming the lives of 15 pedestrians from 2008 to 2010, according to TSTC's analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's the stretch of Route 24 that runs through Nassau County that the council considers the most dangerous, with the worst parts in Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Hempstead and East Meadow.

Data for 2011 has not been released yet, but in that year, Patch reported on the deaths of three pedestrians including 19-year-old , of Levittown, who was fatally struck by two cars while crossing the turnpike in his hometown in June. Eleven days later, 22-year-old , of Massachusetts, also died when he was hit by a car while crossing the heavily trafficked roadway in West Hempstead. Then, the following month,  was killed while crossing the turnpike in East Meadow, where a had also perished nine months earlier. Last month, a 72-year-old man also died after he too was struck by a car in Elmont while attempting to cross the turnpike.

Like many of the other roads that made the list, the turnpike is considered an arterial roadway. These "wide, high-speed roads [are] designed to move as many cars as fast as possible, with little if any consideration for pedestrians," according to the report.  They often lack "pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks, crossing signals, well-defined crosswalks or medians designed to protect pedestrians from fast- moving traffic."

This may explain why nearly 60 percent of the region's 1,267 pedestrian fatalities occurred on these types of roads, even though only about 15 percent of roadways in the Tri-State area are considered arterial. 

The report mentions some of the steps that policymakers in New York have taken to make the state's roadways safer, including the adoption of the Complete Streets law in October 2011, but says "much more needs to be done to keep pedestrians safe on the tri-state region’s roads as the region moves from policy to implementation," including funding projects. The Council suggests even relatively low-cost pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks, crossing signals, curb cuts, raised cross-walks, and protective medians can make a big difference.

Last month, focused specifically on Route 24 concluded that the design of the turnpike is the problem. Although the Department of Transportation and Nassau County have taken some efforts to address the most troublesome spots on the turnpike, including upgrading traffic signals, adding left-turn lanes and installing countdown signals at crosswalks, experts say that without a more comprehensive redesign of the roadway, it will continue to be a threat.

TSTC's report concluded that "more can, and should, be done to promote pedestrian safety. All three states need to prioritize pedestrian safety in their transportation policies, plans, and spending."

What parts of Hempstead Turnpike in West Hempstead do you think are the worst? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

To see what other roads in Nassau County made this year's list and to vote on the one you think is the deadliest, .

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