A once-quiet, mixed-use side street in East Meadow has, for the past year, been burdened with bumper-to-bumper traffic during the peak hours of the workweek.
Rich Bivone looks out the window of RMB Development Consultants Inc., his business on East Meadow Avenue, each morning to see cars crowding the artery, he said, the line sometimes stretching from Hempstead Turnpike to Prospect Avenue.
The traffic began last spring, after the state Department of Transportation added a left-turn traffic-light arrow for eastbound vehicles on Front Street at its intersection with East Meadow Avenue, and left-turn arrows in both directions on East Meadow at the intersection. As a result, the number of through lanes was reduced from two to one on East Meadow.
“I think this is a safety issue that has to be corrected,” Bivone said. “There has to be some involvement with [the DOT’s] engineers to look at this intersection and fix it.”
Bivone, who is responsible for building plans and site development at RMB, said that his experience at the company, and as a retired New York City firefighter, has helped him understand the issue, and he wanted to meet with an engineer or other representative of the DOT to discuss a plan to alleviate the traffic. So he wrote a letter in May 2018 to Imran Ansari, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Nassau County regional representative, and M.T. Vijayendran, a DOT regional traffic engineer, wrote back, saying that an investigation was under way.
In early June, Bivone wrote to Ansari and Vijayendran, requesting that a representative of the DOT appear at a meeting of the Council of East Meadow Community Organizations. That didn’t happen, but Vijayendran responded later that month, and explained that the DOT’s construction affected the “embedded in-pavement detectors” at the East Meadow Avenue-Front Street intersection, resulting in “less than ideal signal operation” or delayed traffic light changes. Vijayendran said the detectors had been repaired, and the signal was operating as programmed.
When school began last fall, however, Bivone said, traffic was once again a problem on East Meadow Avenue, and was affecting the East Meadow Fire Department, which is headquartered on the street, near the intersection.
Bivone wrote another letter to Vijayendran in early September, describing the traffic signal modification as a “failure” and once again requesting that a DOT representative meet with East Meadow community members.
Vijayendran wrote back and assured Bivone that there would be further investigation. Since then, traffic problems have remained, according to Bivone and other residents.
“It’s frustrating when you have a state agency that’s supposed to be working with the people,” Bivone said. “I think the engineers should meet with the community to stand up and say what they’re going to do.”
State Assemblyman John Mikulin appeared at a CEMCO meeting on May 16, and said he had been in contact with DOT engineers and that the issue was still under investigation.
According to Stephen Canzoneri, a DOT spokesman, there is a plan to meet, on a date to be determined, with the East Meadow Fire Department to discuss the installation of vehicle detection devices and a “pre-emption wire” connecting the traffic signal on Front Street to the firehouse, “which would help ease access to the road for first responders,” he said.
Mikulin explained that, while Front Street is under state jurisdiction, East Meadow Avenue — including the traffic light at the intersection — is owned by Nassau County. Canzoneri said that the DOT would be working with County Executive Laura Curran to “make further engineering recommendations.”
Curran noted that the county released two new roadmaps online and as a smartphone application on May 9. The first one displays a schedule of road repavement plans, and the other labels roads according to the jurisdiction under which they fall — village, town, city, county, state or federal. The maps can be found at https://bit.ly/2HavmRl and https://bit.ly/2VRb8Eq.