Austin Blvd. Traffic Study Calls for Two Lanes to Long Beach

Engineering firm suggests widening lanes to make road safer.

Long Beach-bound motorists on Austin Boulevard may have to travel on fewer lanes if a proposal in a Nassau County-backed traffic study is employed to improve safety on Island Park’s main road.

RBA Group, a engineering firm, conducted the study that analyzed road design, traffic patterns and accident reports from 2008 to 2010, and concluded that the boulevard is plagued with aggressive driving that has led to 309 accidents during that time, and travel lanes that are 10 feet wide, when they should be 11, have contributed to its hazards. As one solution, the proposal calls for widening the lanes but reducing the number of south- or Long Beach-bound lanes from three to two, while maintaining the three northbound lanes that serve as a coastal evacuation route for the barrier island, according to the Oceanside/Island Park Herald.

At a community meeting about the proposal in Island Park earlier this month, Eileen Kelly, the firm’s transportation planner, said:

“In addition, in the summer, there’s traffic going to the beach. When people are traveling to go to the beach, they’re all getting there at a different time. But when they’re leaving the beach, they’re all leaving at the same time.”

In addition to many bar-restaurants near Austin Boulevard in the southwest corner of Island Park, a King Kullen supermarket and shopping center are under construction in that area and is expected to open later this year.

County Legislator Denise Ford, R-Long Beach, who attended the community meeting at Lincoln Orens Middle School and contacted Patch on Monday after this story was originally posted, noted that, according to the study, the proposed two southbound lanes on Austin would open up to three lanes at the foot of the Long Beach Bridge, on the Island Park side of the structure.

Ford said that she and the engineering firm know that the proposed changes could impact Long Beach. “There is no doubt that traffic will be impacted by the reduction to two lanes,” she said. “The parking lanes are too narrow as well as the left turning lanes. According to RBA, who did the study, the best configuration for safety is to reduce the number of southbound lanes to two.”

City officials and Long Beach residents were invited to the public presentation in Island Park, Ford noted, and she expressed hope that they would attend future presentations.  

“There will be another presentation and I am hoping that we will get input from the administration in Long Beach as to their thoughts on this study.”

While the Herald reported that the traffic study was started in 2010, after the Island Park Civic Association began calling for safety-related changes to the boulevard when the organization was formed in 2008, a major impetus for the changes on the 1-mile roadway was a fatal accident there in 2003.

That June, a 98-year-old woman was killed while driving her 1983 Cadillac southbound on Austin Boulevard, after she collided with a man driving a 2000 Honda civic beside her. Police said the collision occurred after another motorist in a 1998 Toyota pulled out of the east side of Kingston Boulevard, crossing Austin's westbound lanes to get to the southbound lanes.

The following spring, local residents, spearheaded by the Island Park Chamber of Commerce, took county and Town of Hempstead representatives on a walking tour of Austin, and the town later posted no-left-turn signs on the east side of two side streets off Austin, Vanderbilt Avenue and Broadway, each of which were without traffic lights.

During their walking tour with Ford and Town Councilman Anthony Santino, R-East Rockaway, and their traffic engineers, the residents demonstrated that even when pedestrians push the button to delay the red lights, an average young man has just enough time to walk across Austin's six lanes from one side to the other.

"If you're an elderly person or if you have children in tow or if you're walking your dog, you're going to have a hard time making it across in time," Barbara Rubin, the chamber president in 2004, said. "What we're afraid of, and what has happened, is that the person in the furthest lane may not see you."

The traffic study suggests adding crosswalks with countdown timers and upgraded traffic lights, as well as widening the parking lanes on the side of the road.

* This story was update at 3:14 p.m. on 5.21.12.

Alex Rubin May 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM
I am wondering what the results have been since they completed a similar project on Lido Blvd. Probably a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Donna Pisacano Brown May 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Hi Alex! Is there a way or a contact person to find out what the results were on Lido Blvd.?
Patrick Smith May 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM
this death trap needs a dividers,hate driving on it,we need 3 lanes
Just a Resident May 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Two lanes into Long Beach? The problem with these brilliant planners is they never take into consideration the people who use roads. Have one of them ever been caught in a traffic jam during the summer when beach traffic is backed up to Daly Blvd? What they really need is police enforcement and lots of expensive tickets for aggressive drivers and people talking and texting on cell phones.
Lala May 21, 2012 at 12:45 PM
The issues with Lido Blvd. were corrected about 5 years ago when they put in the divider system. I was personally pushing for 2 lanes along the residential stretches (between Blackheath and Greenway, I believe, and along the Dunes), with 2 wide lanes and one lane for parking as a buffer for the residents who pull out of their driveways along these stretches. No dice, as they felt it was too dangerous to reduce the number of lanes due to the potential impact on evacuations. I felt that the parking lane could be a no-parking zone during declared emergencies such as snow storms and hurricanes, however.
paul.d.spellman May 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Bike lanes?
Wise-T May 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Police enforcement is the key. Does anyone speed through Ocean Ave in Malverne? No. NY State Troopers and Malverne Police are constantly pulling people over there. Nassau Police need to enforce the speed limit on Austin Blvd. Two lanes to Long Beach is a joke.
DBlonde May 21, 2012 at 01:13 PM
How about a study on Island Parkway, where drivers come over the bridge from Harbor Isle as if their on a speedway.
Eddie May 21, 2012 at 01:27 PM
"Congestion Imposed Traffic Enforcement". Where do they find these "engineers"? Why not just close the street and make everyone walk?
SMC May 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
King Kullen and shopping center, really?! That's the worst place for such a thing! It's nice to be able to go to a water front restaurant. Now you have to look at a shopping center? Parking and traffic bad enough already. Can you imagine how many accidents and traffic there's going to be come summer?! 2 lanes into Long Beach... Eliminate the street parking, widen the lanes and keep the 3 lanes.
Ocean Gypsy May 21, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I agree with Just A Resident. People are going to drive aggressively whether there are two or three lanes. Cell phone usage is up and that is not going to cease. Cameras could be placed at all traffic lights and new technology should be in place for monitoring speed. They will find money to pay for engineers but not for services that are needed in the county.
CG May 21, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Probably, but on a happy note, one of Al D'amato's relatives in the asphalt business will move into a much higher tax bracket! LOL More tickets, more cops, read what the person says about Malverne, they're ticket maniacs but no one ever speeds!
rav May 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I agree with Wise-T, Everybody knows not to speed or drive over the limit in Malverne, the same "fear of getting a ticket" needs to be on Austin Blvd, need more police patrol, speed traps, etc...I walk across Austin everyday to go to the train and it's safer than crossing at the light because it doesn't last long and cars are turning in both directions with no regard for pedestrians.
I.D. May 21, 2012 at 08:35 PM
how about some police on the east hudson blocks? how about some action from the powers that be? east hudson is the autobon short cut eastbound. from cars to 18 wheelers. tired of asking for help from out police and council.
V. P. R. May 21, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Yet another WASTE of waste of taxpayer dollars !!! All that will do is create TRAFFIC !! Well I guess if you create a traffic jam, nobody can speed !! I got an idea !! Get them Cops out of Dunkin Doughnuts & leave the street the way it is ! I just saved the taxpayer's Millions ! ahahaha
I.D. May 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
long beach police do not give tickets, they give warnings, and especially if they know the driver. the 'unmarked' just sort of sit around and watch, but do not issue summons. i am still waiting for help from our 'new leadership'. what a joke. all this traffic stuff, ticket stuff, etc. is just blah, blah, blah. my other favorite is the texting while speeding. great, good luck making it all summer long without getting run over
CG May 22, 2012 at 12:09 AM
But then King Al D;amato gets no kickbacks from the road construction, LOL
Errol May 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
The real problem is all the chop shops, tow yards and illegal alien bars along the boulevard placing their greasy vehicles and jalopies on the street and making the place look like Ozone Park Queens or Hunts Point, Bronx. Let the town take the store property up to 20 feet by eminent domain to create a beautified tree lined boulevard and encourage more respectable businesses to move in rather than the predatory tow shops . People are speeding because of the lack of safe roadway. Reducing lanes to Long Beach wiill create hardships and danger. Better yet lets keep all the scum that come down to Long Beach in the summer out!
Gary May 22, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Not only that... they had to make it look like a typical cinder block warehouse shaped supermarket instead of something attractive like a nautical themed structure.
Lloyd May 22, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Wait a second!! This proposed multi million dollar road project is being seriously considered because some 98 year old woman driver was killed back in 2003 when she side swiped another car and then crashed. First of all...Why was this old biddy even driving at her age? Secondly...She was driving a 20 year old Caddy Klunker and probably couldnt see over the steering wheel or see at all. And lastly...The article mentioned the accident occured after another driver entered Austin Blvd's WESTBOUND lanes. Huh? Does that road suddenly make a sharp right turn headed towards Long Beach? This whole "improvement" project stinks like Reynolds Channel at low tide. Leve it at 3 lanes and enforce the speed limit.
delete me May 22, 2012 at 04:27 PM
WTF they want to WIDEN the lanes? Are they insane?!! Would somebody PLEASE find me any recent data that supports this ridiculous myth that widening lanes will make streets safer!!!!!!!!!!!! ANYONE?
bob slob May 22, 2012 at 08:17 PM
These cops do nothing to enforce traffic laws; if it doesn't involve beating someone up, they wont even get out of their cars, motorcucles, pick-ups.
Sent from my Lear Jet May 23, 2012 at 02:00 PM
During WWII Austin Blvd was a dirt road with zillions of potholes. At both ends were signs that said BYPASS TO LONG BEACH, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. In the late 1940's it was paved and widened with two lanes each way, and a wide grass divider. This proved inadequate when the twin LB bridges were built in the 1950's and the grass dividers were paved over into what is there today. Austin Boulevard was two lanes each way for around 15 years and was proven INADEQUATE. It currently carries far more traffic so narrowing it is not the answer. Ask a planner for a plan and you will get a plan, even if it's a stupid one that didn't work.
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Interesting idea.
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Interesting idea.
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 01:06 AM
another interesting idea.
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM
good point.
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 02:41 AM
AUSTIN BLVD.PLAN This plan is horrible! Pretty dividers- O.K.! More traffic lights on the side streets - O.K.! However, we have all experienced being stuck in traffic. We have huge backups, for many, many reasons. Picture it! How about when the bridge is up? Better still, how about all the traffic and delay, when the bridge is STUCK in the up position? A stuck bridge is much more common than a "coast evacuation". The plan states that the reason for three lanes going north is for an easy coastal evacuation! Get serious! Personally, we can count the number of coastal evacuations on one hand! One solution--- N.Y.C. bridges, move "cones" to create a needed extra lane. How efficient and cheap is that! Picture it! There are three lanes in Oceanside. -- Then we "squish" into two lanes on Austin Blvd. - Then we "unsquish" near the bridge. I am not an engineer but I do live in Barnum Isle and I do know the area, and better yet -- I have common sense!!!!!
Donna VonGlahn Carroll June 01, 2012 at 02:48 AM
There is only a small portion of Austin Blvd. that has street parking. Eliminate the on street parking.


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