Drivers on Jericho Turnpike will soon have another reason to be wary once they reach New Hyde Park Road, as in addition to the infamous back-ups that occur when the gates of the Long Island Rail Road are down to allow train traffic to pass, Nassau County began installation of two red-light cameras on Friday afternoon.
“We weren’t even aware of this one until yesterday,” New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro said when asked if there were any other locations in the village where the cameras might be installed.
“We don’t always know that they’re digging,” Nassau County Traffic Safety Coordinator Chris Mistron said, noting that the county currently has cameras at 76 locations out of 100 it is allowed under law. He added said that the county has not relocated or removed any cameras from any of their locations once they were initially installed.
Mistron said that the New Hyde Park Public Works Department was notified “several months” ago due to permit process required for digging up the sidewalks at the intersection.
“Normally it could be several months, it could be a year ago… it really varies,” he said. “The contractors have to get permits in each of the villages. I think the permits were only issued a week or two ago.”
The main contractor on the project is Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions – the same third party vendor that reviews and issues the summonses – but several local companies do the actual construction on-site.
When approached, a worker on the site stated that the installation would take approximately two to three weeks. One of the cameras would be located next to the USPS box on Jericho Turnpike in front of the village hall, while the second would be pointed at New Hyde Park Road near the electronic sign at the southwest corner of the intersection.
Originally the county shied away from installing cameras within the borders of villages due to the thought that the tickets would be subject to village court jurisdiction. Some also believed that it was to ensure the county would be assured it would keep all of the revenue generated by the tickets as well.
There is a $65 fine associated with a red light camera violation, consisting of a $50 violation and a $15 administration fee. There is also a $4 fee for paying the violation online via a credit card.
However, all violations are processed through the county traffic and parking violations bureau in Hempstead
“We got a law interpretation… that the red light camera bill specifically goes to traffic and parking violations, we didn’t have to go to the village courts,” Mistron said, maintaining that the purpose of the cameras is not about revenue generation.
The installation of red light cameras are showing a 40 percent reduction in accidents at intersections at which they are installed and 30 percent reduction in rear-end collisions.
“It’s not about issuing violations, it’s about improving safety,” he said.
Mistron also said that the county is revisiting other locations including Herricks Road and Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park due to the repaving of Route 25 change by New York State. Originally the county was going to place a camera on the northeast corner of the intersection on the Mineola side of the intersection, but state crews removed a section of sidewalk. Instead, Nassau County is focusing on the Garden City Park side of Herricks Road for southbound traffic.
Mistron has maintained that the county embraces transparency about the cameras, placing signs 100 ft. before intersections to inform motorists of the locations. However, an official list which was published on the Nassau County government website is no longer available.
Mistron said that the map was removed “several months” ago but would be available online again before the end of the year.