Richards is calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to do a full evaluation of the intersection of Sunrise Highway and Francis Lewis Boulevard.
“We know that Sunrise Highway has always had its challenges,” said Richards “We want to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent these sort of incidents from happening proactively.”
Richards explained that Sunrise Highway is unique because there are homes and restaurants one block off the thoroughfare, but it's very difficult to make either a right or a left turn because of the high speeds and heavy traffic.
“We are here today to ask DOT to reevaluate and study this intersection,” Richards said. “Yes it is a highway, but we cannot allow our seniors, our pedestrians, our children, people getting off the LIRR to be put in harm's way.”
The councilman worked with DOT to install multiple traffic lights last year on Brookville Boulevard. He called on the department to put speed cameras on Sunrise Highway and the end of South Conduit Avenue. The high rates of speed are adding to issue of pedestrian non-safety, he explained.
“When you see cars driving down here, they really are driving 60 and 70 miles per hour some days,” said Richards.
Richards also wants new safety measures on both North and South Conduit Avenue along with Merrick Boulevard to help crack down on speeding drivers. He called on the Vision Zero program to focus on the street.
He is also calling for anyone with information about the hit and run to come forward.
“You killed a 16-year-old young lady,” Richards said. “A young lady who had her future ahead of her, whose family now has to mourn the death.”
According to a preliminary investigation, 16-year-old Alexia Smith, was trying to cross Sunrise Highway sometime around midnight on February 10, when a dark van traveling eastbound struck her.
Richards said that this also underscores the importance of adding a new police precinct to better serve the area, or in the interim, ensuring the satellite precinct is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Right across the street, right behind this train station is the satellite precinct and because it's closed at midnight, there's no one around,” he said, “Perhaps if that satellite was open 24 hours, there might have been a cop perhaps crossing this intersection or patrolling this.”
Samuel Elliott of Rosedale's 148th Drive and Community Block Association echoed Richards' sentiments.
“I think if that precinct is open 24 hours, things would have been different,” he said.