Safety changes are definitely coming
for both pedestrians and motorists to Cutter Mill Road’s entire length, from Bayview Avenue to where it intersects with Middle Neck Road. But, the exact nature of those changes and the timetable for their implementation are yet to be determined.
That was made clear last week at a special meeting hosted by Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum at Great Neck Plaza’s village hall, where proposals were presented and discussed by Aryeh Lemberger, the county’s unit head of traffic engineering and Patrick Lenihan of the traffic consulting firm, VHB.
Lenihan reported that during the past six years there had been 116 traffic incidents (one involving pedestrians) at the Middle Neck intersection and 26 incidents (25 with vehicles and one involving a bicycle) at the Bayview intersection during that time. No fatalities were reported at either location.
“What we’re trying to do,” explained Lenihan, “includes reducing vehicle speeds, improving pedestrian safety, reducing vehicular accidents and doing so while maintaining the efficient flow of traffic. We don’t want to do anything that’s going to lead to high levels of congestion.”
“The main thing that we’re proposing on the Cutter Mill corridor [from Bayview to Middle Neck] right now is to reduce the number of travel lanes from four lanes to two,” he continued. “This is sometimes called a ‘road diet.’ This differs from Great Neck Road in that Great Neck Road was done with a raised median. Currently we are not proposing a raised median, simply a [painted] striped median.”
“Once we determine what the proposed solution is based on all your input, we are going to engineer and design the solution to the best of our ability,” said Lemberger. “I don’t have a timeframe yet. It depends on the [final] design and what kind of challenges we face.
“We’re going to take the comments back that you made tonight and we’re going to refine what we have, collect additional information if necessary…and then we’re going to finalize the concepts.”
Some of those concepts include additional and better-marked crosswalks and installing flashing lights to warn motorists when pedestrians are crossing.
Among those in the audience of about 35 who gave their opinions were Plaza Mayor Jean Celender, trustees Pam Marksheid and Gerry Schneiderman and North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Lee Seeman.
“I’m so delighted to see so many people out talking about this. It’s a very important issue,” said Mayor Celender from her seat in the audience.”
Referring to the traffic changes made on Great Neck Road, she added, “I’m an advocate for road ‘diets.’ They work. They slow down cars.”
But the mayor did express her concerns that the Cutter Mill plan did not include a center median like the one on Great Neck Road and that the many curb cuts and cars needing to make turns made Cutter Mill a far more difficult project to design properly.
“Having just paint there is not going to stop a car,” she said, referring to the plan for painting a median.
Other audience suggestions and comments ran the gamut from designating certain traffic lanes as “right or left turn only,” sidewalk fencing to discourage pedestrians from jaywalking, changing the exit and entrances in the parking lot of the Silverstein Hebrew Academy near Bayview and better police enforcement of rules against illegal parking, illegal turns and red light violators.
Plaza trustee Marksheid echoed the comments of several who complained about the lack of police in the Plaza. “Cars come speeding [through], not just from Cutter Mill or Great Neck Road, all over, going through stop signs [and] making U-turns on Middle Neck,” she said.
“We can’t stop people from breaking the law,” she added, speaking of the Plaza’s role in enforcement. “We need help from the police; we need help with traffic design. We need help here because our residents’ safety is really what counts for us.”
This was the second meeting held to field public suggestions and comments about Cutter Mill. The first meeting was in September.
Cutter Mill, Middle Neck, Great Neck Road, Bayview and Grace Avenue are all county roads, not under Plaza jurisdiction.