Clarification: According to the MTA , New Hyde Park Road is one of busiest crossings in the LIRR system in terms of car/train traffic numbers not in terms of the busiest for motorists or pedestrians violating the traffic laws.
The New Hyde Park Road grade crossing in the Village of New Hyde Park is one of seven street-level crossings along the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Main Line being eliminated as part of the LIRR Expansion Project from Floral Park to Hicksville.
The reasoning behind the elimination of the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing is because it poses a safety risk to drivers, pedestrians and LIRR customers, contributes to noise and air pollution, and causes lengthy commutes for both drivers and LIRR customers.
As trains approach the New Hyde Park Station, grade crossing gates are in the down position 32 to 42 percent of the time during morning and evening peak periods. The need for grade crossing elimination is further illustrated by the six fatal crashes at grade crossing locations in the LIRR Main Line corridor within the last 10 years.
Officials reported that New Hyde Park Road is the busiest crossing in terms of drivers who do not obey the flashing signs to stop when the grade crossing gates come down. Disobeying those flashing signs leads to car accidents and broken crossing gates.
“Driving around the gates when they are down, or coming down, can be deadly,” said a LIRR spokesman when the New Hyde Park Illustrated News reached out for comment. “It isn’t ever worth the risk.”
“I can confirm that the MTA Police have recently increased their police presence at the New Hyde Park Road railroad crossing,” said Deputy Communications Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Aaron Donovan. “We have also recently set up flexible delineators and reflective pavement markings [at the New Hyde Park Road crossing] and at all railroad crossings throughout the LIRR system, and ensured continuity of the white side striping, which are helping to improve safety at the crossing. They are designed to prevent motorists from accidentally turning onto the tracks.”
According to Donovan, the LIRR’s Corporate Safety Department reviews the data on broken gates monthly to help strategically determine where best to focus its railroad crossing safety education and outreach efforts through their T.R.A.C.K.S. program, which stands for Together, Railroads And Communities Keeping Safe initiative. The MTA Police also use the information to strategically target their enforcement efforts.
The New Hyde Park Road grade crossing is being reconstructed to feature a new five-lane underpass with pedestrian sidewalks on the east and west sides of the underpass. There will also be a dedicated left-turn lane from southbound New Hyde Park Road to Clinch Avenue.
This reconstructed grade crossing was designed in conjunction with the Village of New Hyde Park and will enhance safety and provide for a quieter and more livable community along the rail road.
According to New Hyde Park mayor Lawrence Montreuil, once construction on the Covert Avenue grade crossing concludes, the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing will be shut down for 267 days.