Truck traffic irks Five Towns residents

Major West Broadway restoration project set for 2018

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The saga of the proposed restoration of West Broadway, one of the Five Towns’ vital roads, continues, because, residents contend, truckers driving through the communities are ignoring signs prohibiting the vehicles from using the street.

West Broadway has a single lane in each direction. It stretches from Broadway, in Hewlett, to Rockaway Turnpike, in Cedarhurst, and residents said drivers regularly use the road as a shortcut, despite signs posted on both sides of the street that read, “No trucks except for local deliveries.”

Some residents, who live on the road, said they feel the vibrations of the trucks as they pass.. The West Broadway Safety and Beautification Committee, formed in 2015 in response to the deterioration of the road, has been vocal on the issue. Safety is the committee’s biggest concern. There have been a number of accidents along the road, and residents fear what could happen if one involved a truck.

“They come barreling through at night without any traffic,” said Ahron Rosenthal, a committee co-chair. “There’s no margin for error. There’s no shoulder. The road is right up against the sidewalk.”

County legislators Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) met with committee members on Nov. 3 to discuss the issue and hear their thoughts on the status of a proposed county project to upgrade West Broadway.

The restoration project was scheduled to begin in 2016, but was held up for a drainage study, because recurring flooding issues afflicted the area. “It would have been exceedingly wasteful and foolhardy to tear up sections of West Broadway while that study was going on,” Kopel said at a June 6 community meeting, at which the consensus was that repairing the road before examining the drainage systems might lead to digging up the work and redoing it.

Ford said she expected major construction on the road to begin in late 2018. There is a great deal of planning to do, she said. The full project’s scope and its price will remain unknown until designs are completed.

Residents said they are bothered by the road’s lack of shoulders, curbs and crosswalks, as well as the way the sidewalks have deteriorated. At the June meeting, Ford lamented the state of the curbs and sidewalks, wondering how much of a safety concern they are. “There are some places [on West Broadway] where you wonder if there was ever a curb there,” she said.

At that meeting, it was established that if the roads are under county jurisdiction, then the curbs and sidewalks are the responsibility of either the town or village where the road is located. Ford said that the county had allocated enough money to repair the street, sidewalks and curbs.

While all these improvements would enhance safety in the area, Rosenthal said he was worried that the renovations might not last if trucks continue using West Broadway. “We brought in an engineer who said the vibrations from the trucks are definitely playing a role in the degeneration of the road,” he said.

Ford and Kopel have contacted the Nassau County Police Department’s 4th Precinct about the issue. “The precinct is aware of this issue and has intensified their patrols,” said Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun, commanding officer of the Public Information Office. “If motorists are in violation of any vehicle or traffic laws then they are subject to summons. Let’s say you ignore or disobey a sign. You’re subject to a $233 fine.”

Kopel said he was eager for the restoration to begin because he lives in Lawrence and he often drives down West Broadway. “Things have been stalled in the [Nassau County] Legislature for a long time,” he said. “That needs to end.”

Getting the project to move forward offers Kopel and Ford an opportunity to reach across the aisle to County Executive-elect Laura Curran, a Democrat.

“Judging from our committee hearings, I think there’s a sense of camaraderie and working together,” Ford said. “I hope this will be a new era of cooperation between the Republican-controlled Legislature the Democratic executive.”

Rosenthal has been happy with how responsive his local representatives have been on this issue. He said he only wishes the process was a bit more publicized. “When people don’t hear anything and they’re driving along the road without seeing work being done, he said. “They’re going to end up assuming the worst.”

Have an opinion about West Broadway conditions? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.