Eight intersections in New Hyde Park, Mineola, Garden City Park and Williston Park are on a list of 125 intersections being considered for the second phase of 50 red-light camera installations around Nassau County.
Citing public safety and increased revenue, area officials generally support the plan which critics say is moving ahead too quickly.
“It appears, based on the information that we’re getting, that the initial phase – 50 cameras – is meeting with some success,” said Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park).
Intersections that are candidates for the cameras, intended to discourage or catch scoff-laws running red lights, include Jericho Turnpike, at the intersections of New Hyde Park Road, Mineola Boulevard, Herricks Road, Willis Avenue and Nassau Boulevard; Old Country Road, at the intersections of Mineola Boulevard and Roslyn Road, and the intersection of Hillside Avenue and Willis Avenue.
Nicolello, who voted in favor of implementing the second phase of red-light camera installations, noted that the frequency of auto accidents had been reduced at some intersections in the county where the cameras had been installed. And he downplayed concerns about the increased risk of rear-end accidents when motorists suddenly stop on yellow lights to avoid being snapped by the cameras.
“That is a concern. But the thinking is that the rear-end accidents are not as not as severe as the accidents that occur when somebody enters an intersection,” Nicolello said.
Village of Mineola trustee Scott Strauss, a former New York City detective, also endorsed the idea.
“If it’s going to reduce accidents, I’m all for it,” Strauss said. “We need to slow down a little bit, and watch out for pedestrians and other cars.”
Strauss dismissed concerns expressed by some people that the cameras are a sign of the times, as technology enabling obtrusive surveillance.
“I think it’s a good safety measure. I know people talk about ‘Big Brother is watching’. But if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have any concerns,” he said.
Five locations in Lake Success are also being consider for red-light cameras – the intersections at Marcus Avenue and the entrance to Northern State Parkway, Community Drive and the South Service Road, Lakeville Road and Northern Boulevard and Lakeville Road at the North and South Service Roads.
In a statement to Blank Slate Media, Lake Success Mayor Ronald Cooper said he will consult with Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth, (D-Great Neck), regarding the issue which he has supported in the past.
“The ones that are in Lake Success are on county roads. There is a camera already at Marcus and Lakeville and we did not object to that installation,” said Cooper. “The issue is one of safety, and if the cameras serve that purpose then I am not against using them.”
Approved by the Nassau County Legislature Feb. 25, Phase II of the red-light camera plan requests that the state double the number of red-light camera installations from 50 to 100 in the coming months to generate needed revenue and for the overall public safety of drivers.
Bosworth favors a fair distribution of red-light cameras, but is reserving judgment on proposed sites until the final list of 50 is made by county representatives from traffic safety, engineering, parking and traffic violations and the public works department. who will make the final decision regarding camera installations.
Introduced in the state Assembly by Charles Levine, (D-Glen Cove), phased two of the red-light camera bill is awaiting approval from both houses in Albany.
“Why don’t we see which spots are actually chosen,” said Bosworth, who does not anticipate that all proposed locations in Great Neck will be picked. “If only 50 are chosen and five are in Great Neck, it would be excessive,” Bosworth said. “I will certainly keep an eye on it.”
The 125 intersections on the list were chosen strictly by the amount of accidents at each location, according to county officials.
“It’s not a question of choosing districts here, it’s a question of where accidents occurred over a period of time,” said Gregory May, director of legislative affairs for Nassau County, to lawmakers in Mineola last week.
John Corlett, chairman of the AAA state legislative committee, said the county is “charging ahead too quickly” with the plan.
Cortlett said concerns have been raised by some of the 2.7 million members he represents regarding the motives of the red light cameras.
“I would like to be able to tell them convincingly that this is about traffic safety, not revenue. I would have to say that right now I can’t do that,” said Corlett.
Timing of amber lights is set to the posted speed limit at intersections, not actual speed, according to county officials, but critics argue that more reaction time needs to be added to give drivers proper time to stop.
Speaking at an open session of the legislative meeting last week, county resident Jack McCloy said perception time and reaction time need to be included in the calculation.
“This calculation is not being used right now,” said McCoy, who has initiated an Article 78 challenge against New York City in the state Supreme Court, challenging red light camera timing. The suit will be heard March 22, according to McCloy.