Construction zone eyed in LIE pileup

Authorities say a DOT construction zone was about three-fourths of a mile down the road from the crash.

Authorities say a DOT construction zone was about three-fourths of a mile down the road from the crash. (12/20/12)

YAPHANK - There are questions today as to whether a nearby construction zone played a role in yesterday's fiery 35-car pileup on the Long Island Expressway that left one person dead and 33 others injured.

State authorities say a New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) construction zone was situated about three-fourths of a mile down the road from where the chain-reaction crash occurred. One travel lane was closed to traffic as part of a $6.2 million pavement repair project, the DOT says.

A traffic safety expert with AAA of New York says that federal manuals suggest that warning signs be placed a half-mile ahead of construction zones to warn drivers to slow down. Special signs are required when there are lane reductions involved.

DOT officials say they posted nine signs beginning a mile in front of the work zone, and those signs were inspected by an engineer hours before the crash.

A private contractor, New York Paving Incorporated of Long Island City, has been in charge of the construction site near the crash scene. The company declined to comment about signs it may or may not have posted.

It's still unclear if speed or the lane closure played a definitive role in yesterday's crash.

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