Once again, Levittown’s John R. Ferretti Jr. is at a crossroad. He’s battling head-to-head against Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
This time, the legislator wants answers about red light cameras, those pesky poles that nail drivers with a hefty fine. Sometimes, people do indeed blow lights and are held accountable for their actions. But that hasn’t been the only thing to get people tickets in Nassau.
“The bill came about when I first started receiving complaints from constituents for making complete stops before they made a right on red, but they didn’t make the stop exactly on the white line painted on the road,” Ferretti said. “In some instances, the white line was so eroded that you can barely see it.”
Ferretti and the other county legislators voted to enact a law that would require the county to install signs that direct drivers on restrictions, like not being allowed to turn on red at a given light or to stop in a specific spot to not trigger the cameras. The law was enacted on Dec. 20, 2018.
The signs, though, haven’t gone up as planned. When March 1 came around, the deadline to finish the work surrounding the cameras, a percentage of the signs were not put up. Ferretti wants to know why.
“Every intersection with a red light camera has to have a photo enforced sign notifying people that the intersection is controlled by a camera,” the Levittown legislator said. “Any intersection that allows right turn on red but is also controlled by a camera has to have an additional sign that says ‘must make stop here’ with an arrow pointing down to where the line is of where they need to stop. The third part of the law is the white line has to be clear; painted without being eroded.”
That hasn’t happened.
When Ferretti held a March 15 press conference to call out the Curran administration, she fought back. Curran’s office said the “Photo Enforced Advance” signs are 99 percent complete. However, “Stop Here on Red” signs are only up at 30 percent of the deemed locations.
“Legislator Ferretti’s staff has been provided all the information on the status of the sign installations,” a statement by Nassau County Executive Spokeswoman Christine Geed said. “These signs are essential to the safety of our residents and it is a priority that we install them correctly—not, in a rushed, irresponsible manner.”
The statement went on to say that the county’s coordination with the state’s department of transportation and the weather “are also significant factors dictating the pace of responsible installation.”
But that’s unacceptable, according to Ferretti. He said when the bill was first introduced, the county itself asked for the March 1 deadline, pushing it back so things wouldn’t be rushed and completed in a proper manner.
“Her statement said they had to be cautious and do it properly, and because of the weather, they weren’t able to do that,” Ferretti said. “It’s been the mildest winter in New York that I can remember, so to use the weather as an excuse for her non-compliance of the law is disingenuous at best.”
While the signs and paint jobs should be done by April 15, the county isn’t laying off. Local media asked Geed about dismissing the tickets that were given to people turning right on red from March 1 to the self-imposed April 15 deadline. Geed responded by saying, “We have a zero-tolerance policy for motorists running red lights.”
But if people aren’t actually running red lights, is that acceptable?
“I’m encouraging residents that if they do get a ticket at one of these intersections, they should contact the county executive and insist she rectify the situation because the tickets they’re getting aren’t fair,” Ferretti said. “The whole goal of the program is to get people to follow the law and stop at the white line. For the county executive to say that in the last three and a half months, she’s only be able to install 30 percent of the signs at intersections after it was her administration that requested the March 1 date is unacceptable.”