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Meeting set to deal with speeders: Officials to explore solutions

A review of recent Police Department reports of speeding tickets and other driving infractions raises questions about a need for changes.

Police Chief Jim Read is aware of the challenges. He is meeting with Supervisor Gerry Siller, Town Engineer Joe Finora and Highway Superintendent Brian Sherman this week to discuss the situation and focus on possible changes to enhance safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

What brought the issue to a head was an Aug. 17 crash at Crescent Beach where a driver drove through a fence and the pavilion at the site, taking out a pillar and a picnic table and landing in the water. The driver was subsequently charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, speeding and several other  traffic infractions.

Island resident Brett Surerus reported that only minutes before the accident, there was a children’s birthday party with about 50 children and adults at the site of the crash.

At the Aug. 29 Town Board work session, Supervisor Gerry Siller called the damage “incredible” and said there must be changes because a vehicle speeding through the curve there posed a threat to other vehicles and pedestrians. Councilman Jim Colligan added that large trucks on the road may have difficulty negotiating the curve in the road.

But Crescent Beach isn’t the only area of concern. Almost every week, there are speeders on the narrow New York Avenue roadway where drivers, pedestrians and cyclists compete for space. A report to the police on Aug. 29 said a group of about 25 cyclists travel from the Heights along New York Avenue on Sundays at speeds that show no regard for other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. Extra patrols were requested to handle the situation.

There have already been discussions about a project between the town and the Heights Property Owners Corporation to create a walkway for pedestrians. But even if that happens, there is still a danger for cyclists on the road posted for a 25 mph speed limit that is exceeded by many drivers.

St. Mary’s Road is another site where residents have complained about speeding vehicles and, particularly trucks, using the road to avoid traffic on Route 114. Approximately 20 young children reside on Ginny Drive off St. Mary’s Road. On Aug 28, a motorist reported a black pickup truck, traveling north on St. Mary’s Road, swerved onto the southbound lane, hitting a traffic sign and almost hitting her vehicle. Police were unable to locate the truck.

Another St. Mary’s Road resident said a recent incident outside her house involved a fast moving vehicle that hit a sign reading “Slow Children.” The driver left the scene.

Chief Read said police are “proactive” in responding to neighborhood complaints about speeders and employ several methods to deal with the problem. Electronic speed signs are posted to get drivers to self-correct if they are exceeding posted limits. Enhanced posting such as “targeted area” flags and other attachments to signs are used to get people to slow down and recognize speed limits.

Police also use radar enforcement to clock speeds resulting in either verbal warnings or traffic tickets, Chief Read said.