Road work improved Plaza safety: study

Mellisa Gaffney

Crashes on Great Neck Road are down nearly 30 percent since completion construction intended to make the roadway safer, according to a report presented to the Village of Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees last week.

“We definitely achieved our goals and what we were looking to do,” said Albert Dawson, vice president of the Brookhaven-based engineering firm L.K. McLean Associates. “(Great Neck Road) looks like a boulevard.”

L.K. McLean developed a “traffic calming” project on a half-mile stretch of Great Neck Road that connects Cutter Mill and Middle Neck roads, which included reducing the number of lanes heading each direction. Construction on the $1.177 million project began in the spring of 2008 and last until that fall.

The goals of the traffic calming project included reducing collisions, vehicle and pedestrian conflicts and speeding on the road, as well as to enhance aesthetics, Dawson said.

The “road diet” – reducing two lanes to one lane of travel in either direction, the raised median, upgraded traffic signals that include a “countdown” pedestrian signal at certain intersections, and new pavement were implemented as part of the project, Dawson said.

Prior to the project, there were 172 total crashes on Great Neck Road between January 2005 and December 2007.

Dawson said after completion of the work, from January 2009 through November 2010, there were 88 – a nearly 30-percent reduction.

Village Trustee Pamela Marksheid, who lives on Knightsbridge Road – a road that is perpendicular to Great Neck Road – said the project has been “effective (at) slowing down traffic” and it is a “better safety surface.” The previous pavement on Great Neck Road was 80 years old.

“I think the results are very beneficial to our village,” Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender added.

In other traffic-related news, Celender breached the subject of trying to add additional street parking in the village, specifically on Grace Avenue, Chapel Place and Canterbury Road.

“Parking is everything in this village,” Celender pointed out, adding that she asked Dawson to look at potential parking stalls on either of the roads.

“Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend parking on Chapel (Place) or Canterbury (Road),” Dawson said. Both roads are 29 feet in width, and there must be a minimum of seven feet for one-side street parking. Were there to be two-side street parking, the space left – 15 feet – does not meet standards for emergency vehicle requirements, Dawson explained, which need to be a minimum of 17 feet.

Marksheid suggested looking at putting the one-side parking on the other side of the street to maximize the number of spots that can be utilized, as one side might have more or less curb cuts than the other.

Dawson said there is a possibility also of adding parking slots on the north end of Grace Avenue.

However, Dawson pointed out, the village would have to examine safety factors there and the sight distance required for drivers approaching the north end of the road.

Celender asked Dawson to further investigate the parking situation and bring back recommendations to the board of trustees.

The next Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees meeting will be Wednesday, May 4, at 8 p.m.

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Mellisa Gaffney

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