The Village of Port Washington North is taking steps to address traffic safety concerns after multiple incidents of vehicular accidents resulting in individuals harmed have occurred, sparking concerns on the Board of Trustees and from residents.
At a meeting Monday evening, the board voted to conduct a traffic study that would assess intersections. Among the data collected would be vehicles stopping at stop signs and stoplights and the speed at which individuals are driving.
“This is an important first step from the village standpoint, from the people standpoint,” Mayor Robert Weitzner said.
The study, which the mayor and clerk described as an audit of intersections, is being conducted by the local organization Stop For Kids. The organization is known for its stop sign cameras that ticket individuals for not making complete stops, something that local villages have considered and the Village of Kings Point has implemented.
Weitzner said the village is committing funding for a one to two-month audit on the village’s intersections, which he is predicting to be done by the end of the year. He said the audit cost will not exceed $5,000.
The mayor said the audit is the first step in addressing the issue.
Weitzner said the village will then roll out a plan at the start of the new year “to knock this nonsense out and kind of make our village as safe as it can be.”
“This board won’t tolerate it,” Weitzner said.
The mayor said there are options available for the village to address traffic safety, which they will be looking into.
He encouraged residents to share their stories of traffic issues to assist in the audit and addressing the issue.
Illustrating the need to address traffic safety, the village’s traffic safety commissioner, Steve Kaplan, shared two incidents of car accidents that have occurred recently. This included one incident of a car crashing into a storefront and a three-car crash at an intersection.
On Saturday, Weitzner said that a car had crashed through the front of West Marine at Soundview Marketplace and pinned a pedestrian between the car and the front of the store. He said the driver had been experiencing chest pains when she went off the road, striking a pedestrian walking in front of the store and subsequently crashing through the storefront.
“I’d like to think obviously that this was an unfortunate but hopefully a unique, freak accident,” Weitzner said.
Weitzner said the pedestrian sustained a leg injury and trauma but survived. While the storefront was struck, Weitzner said the damage was superficial and no weight-supporting beams were struck.
“Considering everything, lucky for the two people,” Weitzner said. “Lucky for the building.”
The three-car collision occurred at the intersection of Soundview Drive and Waterview Drive. Kaplan said he did not think anybody was seriously injured, but he did not know the exact details.
Multiple residents shared their experiences of unsafe driving in the village, including being nearly T-boned at an intersection due to a car not stopping at a stop sign the day of the meeting and pedestrians being struck by cars in the past.
Some residents suggested increasing the police presence in specific areas where individuals are not abiding by traffic laws. Weitzner said that option had been explored, but police said they were unable to dedicate officers solely to the cause.
“So we need to figure out something else,” Weitzner said.
Residents also said that speeding has been a problem in the village, which Weitzner said is an issue with the local speed limits, not individuals speeding.
Kaplan said the village has speed radars and has studied the results. What he found was that individuals were driving fairly close to the speed limit, sometimes going a few miles per hour above the limit, but that the nature of the village’s narrow and winding roads made it look like cars were driving much faster.
Weitzner said what really needs to be done is reducing the speed limits for cars, but that is a state law the village is unable to change.
He reassured concerned residents that the issue of traffic safety has also been a concern of the board, and they are “on it.”
“We’re serious about this as you are, if not more so,” Weitzner said.
In tandem with the intersection study, the village also implemented a no-parking zone on Harbor Road to increase traffic safety after requests from local law enforcement.
The newly established no-parking zone is located on the north side of Harbor Road in front of where Fire Medic Co. #1 is located. The other side of the street will continue to provide parking.
Weitzner said Harbor Road is already a narrow street and cars parking on the side consistently cross over the yellow line, making the traffic lanes even narrower and an “unsafe condition.”
The Port Washington North Board of Trustees will convene again at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 when it will hold a public hearing for the Port Washington Fire Department to present the 2024 fire and emergency medical services contract. The contract cost is $307,337, which the mayor estimated to be a 3-4% increase.