Nassau Expressway streetlights are on!

State, county, town and village governments mobilize to fix the system

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After a car crashed on Thanksgiving Day into the one streetlight pole that houses the controls for all the lights along the Nassau Expressway, multiple levels of government mobilized to remedy the situation that plunged the roadway known as state route 878 into total darkness south of Burnside Avenue.

Over the holiday weekend, officials from the Village of Lawrence, the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office collaborated to get the lights repaired. According to officials, the part that needed to be replaced was obsolete and a replacement was ordered. As of Thursday night, Nov. 29, the lights were on.

“This was an example of government responding to a dangerous situation in a timely and appropriate fashion,” Kaminsky said. “I thank County Executive [Laura] Curran, the Village of Lawrence, the Town of Hempstead, and the NYS Department of Transportation for working together to bring light to NY 878.” 

Kaminsky said that a constituent notified him of the hazardous situation, no streetlights along the expressway, specifically at the intersections of Broadway and Central and Burnside avenues. The subsequent investigation confirmed that a car hit a pole, which caused the lights to go dark. By the night of Nov. 27, Kaminsky had spoken with the county’s Office of Emergency Management and the New York State Department of Transportation to have emergency lights placed at the Broadway and Central Avenue intersections.

“NYSDOT provided mobile light towers along Nassau Expressway while local municipalities performed street lighting repairs,” Long Island regional DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri said. “We stand ready to continue our assistance when requested.”

The county’s OEM placed temporary lights at the Broadway intersection. “Nothing is more important that the safety of Nassau County’s residents,” County Executive Laura Curran said. “We are pleased to have provided this emergency stop-gap measure.”

Lawrence Mayor Alex Edelman and Deputy Village Administrator Gerry Castro, were also instrumental in working with the town and county to resolve the problem. “Gerry worked very, very hard on this,” said Village Administrator Ron Goldman, who noted that Edelman was on the scene.

Nearly all the streetlights along 878 were damaged in Hurricane Sandy and ensuring that all are working has been a battle of governmental jurisdictions. Under state highway law, the maintenance of streetlights is the responsibility of the local municipality. Which municipality and at exactly which point along the roadway the overlapping jurisdictions are responsible for has not been clearly defined. This time, government appears to have partnered in a positive sense.

“Town electrical crews worked diligently to make temporary repairs after the accident, which caused significant damage to the light pole, as well as a main circuit breaker,” said Michael Fricchione, a spokesman for Town Supervisor Laura Gillen. “The light pole was replaced and the breaker, which was found to be obsolete and not widely unavailable, was replaced with a modified piece of equipment in order to provide power to the Village of Lawrence and surrounding area. The town will subsequently be monitoring the area in order to determine if any further power outages are due to the accident, or another issue.”

Atlantic Beach resident Barry Ringelheim who travels 878 daily noted how fast this situation was remedied, but added that since Sandy, 17 streetlights remain out along the roadway between Rock Hall Road and the Atlantic Beach Bridge. “878 is an emergency evacuation route for many in Atlantic Beach and Long Beach, doesn’t anyone care?,” he said.