Garden City’s Traffic Commission reviewed several long-standing traffic issues during its meeting on January 12th, including several which have been ongoing for years.
A number of Village Traffic Commission issues pertaining to Nassau County-owned roads were discussed. Village Administrator Ralph Suozzi said he and Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson reviewed outstanding items that have been deferred at multiple meetings because of a lack of communication back from Nassau County. They penned a letter to County DPW Commissioner Kenneth Arnold, as well as an email to Legislator Laura Schaefer, requesting her assistance in addressing the local issues.
Traffic signal rejected
The Village originally requested the study five years ago, on January 11, 2018. Twenty-two months ago, County DPW Commissioner Arnold emailed village officials that the warrant study for the request had been denied.
In January 2022 Village Administrator Ralph Suozzi called Nassau County Director of Traffic Engineering Harold Lutz to follow up on the determination letter, but the final verdict of denying that signal was announced during the Traffic Commission meeting.
Suozzi said the idea of a traffic light there was rejected based on Nassau County’s traffic volume counts, traffic-crash analysis and observations by county traffic engineering in the field.
Reducing Clinton Road crown
Another item dating to 2018 was a Traffic Commission request to Nassau County asking it to do work on smoothing the intersection humps along Clinton Road in the village’s east – between Commercial Avenue and Meadow Street.
In March of 2021, the last update to the village came from DPW Commissioner Kenneth Arnold, advising that Nassau County completed its traffic analysis and will be contacting the Village “sometime in the next few weeks to go over the findings.”
Almost two years later, Administrator Suozzi said he met with county officials, and the village Board of Trustees. He noted that Clinton Road’s intersection humps were reviewed by county staff.
Suozzi spoke about the County’s preferred proposal that would diminish the crown of Clinton Road, reposition the roadway’s drainage structures with flattening of the road to cut down the higher crown, and allocating between 100 and 150 feet of village sidewalk for the local side roads of the village’s East to meet Clinton Road’s plateau. Each side road would be engineered to meet the new grade Clinton Road would have.
“They have completed 30% design with Alternative #3 of four alternatives for the roadway. What they have asked, with Legislator Schaefer participating at the county engineering levels too, is that they want to meet with the Garden City Village Board and the public to go over these designs and alternatives and share why they choose one over the other. They want to get our agreement as a village that Alternative #3 is the best one we like, so we are all on the same page and then the county will complete the road design,” Suozzi told the Traffic Commission on January 12. The county could need about six more months from the time of village agreement/consensus to finish the design for the Clinton Road and immediately adjacent area.
According to Administrator Suozzi the preliminary cost estimate for the project is $6.5 million, with 75% to 80% of costs being Nassau County’s responsibility and the remaining 20% to 25% “being on the village’s dime.”
“What the county would like to suggest, if the village board agrees to it, is that the Village and County enter into an IMA (intermunicipal agreement) where they’d denote all the funding issues. If we let the county do it alone it may take another four years but if we get in to do it we’d be assuring services almost immediately,” he explained.
Reducing speed limit to 25 mph?
Last fall the Village of Garden City Traffic Commission began a review of lowering the villagewide speed limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH, as well as making the school zone speed limit 15 MPH. When the Commission met in November the proposal, initiated by chairman Trustee Charles Kelly, was passed on for legal review to determine prerequisites for lowering a village speed limit, since New York State laws do not have a “blanket endorsement” for instituting such change.
At the Traffic Commission meeting Trustee Kelly said the village is awaiting the input of village counsel for the conditions. “The plan was to then evaluate them, with the costs of doing so, and we decide if we’re going to meet them – if we decide to meet them, and meet those costs, we would hold a public hearing to determine whether or not village residents support reducing the speed limit to 25 MPH,” he said.
Kelly added that New York State law passed in August 2022 had conditions attached to it, including the ability to reduce their local speed limit “whenever the village desires.” He says criteria for the village to meet were established.
Village Administrator Suozzi told the Commission that Gov. Kathy Hochul has supported allowing New York State’s villages to reduce their local speed limit to 25 MPH from 30, “for special zones.”
“There may be something at the state level that is working parallel to what we are looking at in Garden City,” he announced.
Ultimately the Commission decided to defer the evaluation of the 25 MPH speed limit to its March meeting.
Hilton Ave. turning lane
Also on January 12 Trustee Kelly led a discussion on creating a “right-turn only” lane for westbound Sixth Street at Hilton Avenue, as suggested to the Traffic Commission by William Bellmer. Kelly noted that it was previously discussed as not appropriate to add that to the roadway, and Police Commissioner Jackson spoke about the pedestrian walkway being less than feasible.
“There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic there and I thought a dedicated right-turn lane would not be best for pedestrians. The engineers are requiring a study for hash lines on the road itself. I do not see the right-turn only lane as a viable solution for that location, in particular I do not think the road has enough width there,” Jackson said.
Administrator Suozzi added that the village’s road engineer will be examining the hash lines at the intersection.
A Linden Street resident had suggested a “No Thru Traffic” sign, to be in effect for the hours of 7 and 10 a.m., for the corner of Old Country Road and Linden Street. On January 12 that proposal was unanimously rejected by the Traffic Commission. The Commission received a report including traffic, accident and bus stop surveys for Linden Street between Old Country Road and Bayberry Avenue, which was provided by Commissioner Jackson and GCPD.
Most of the early morning traffic in that East location has been caused by people going to the County’s courthouse, especially by Wetherill and Lefferts.
“The court is more fully in session and traffic has been picking up, so I believe the No Left Turn sign would be the better solution at this time. It would allow residential traffic to come in. At night time or early morning, residents coming in from the west and going east seems to work because of the eight streets, three have it (No Left Turn),” Jackson said.
As it has done at its meetings throughout the second half of 2022, an agenda item for a “Do Not Enter” sign on Wetherill Road at Old Country Road and Bayberry Avenue at Washington Avenue was deferred, pending the completion of the Satellite Traffic Calming study, which is being performed by consultants Creighton Manning.