Frustrations are mounting in Whitestone, where residents are calling on city officials to inspect an accident-prone intersection, located half a block away from a local elementary school, after they said they witnessed a summer of crashes.
“I’ve seen cars smashed up over there,” said Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association. “It’s only a matter of time before a kid gets hit or something worse happens.”
The intersection in question is located at the corner of 11th Avenue and 154th Street, near P.S. 193. A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) said there have been no injuries reported there between 2006 and 2010 — the most recent year for which data is available. Before that, there was only one crash in 1996, which resulted in one injury, according to crashstat.org.
But O’Connor said there have been at least four collisions there during this past summer alone.
“It’s just a horrible situation. It’s always been like that,” O’Connor said. “It’s definitely something that needs to be looked at and looked into.”
There are currently two stop signs for vehicles going east and westbound, but residents say cars constantly parked illegally in a “No Standing” zone impair the vision of drivers trying to go straight on 11th Avenue or make a right turn. Having to slowly inch up halfway into the intersection, they say, makes them sitting ducks for speeding cars zooming down 154th Street.
Last spring, 11th Avenue between 152nd and 154th Streets, where P.S. 193 is located, was converted into a one-way eastbound street. The one-way, O’Connor said, also forces all nearby school traffic to hit the dicey intersection.
“When you stop at the corner, you have to crawl up. You can’t see anything,” said grandparent Nancy Palazzo, 54. “I’m very cautious when I get to that corner, especially if I have kids in the car.”
Parent Robert Moravec, 41, said the single stop sign does not cut it.
“When people can’t see with the cars parked there, they edge half their cars out to see. It’s waiting for a fatality. Without a doubt, it’s dangerous,” he said.
The DOT plans to review requests received from local elected officials, calling for an intersection study, an agency spokesperson said. Meanwhile, O’Connor said he has gathered 150 signatures from local business owners, school personnel and concerned parents who are in favor of a four-way stop or a traffic light.
State Senator Tony Avella said he has been pushing the DOT to take action on this intersection for years dating back to his tenure in the city council, to no avail.
A senate bill he introduced, after the agency repeatedly denied his requests, if passed, would require the DOT to provide a detailed written report of its findings after completing studies. It would also create an appeals process, the senator said, for community members to fight decisions the agency makes on whether or not a traffic control device is warranted.
“When the DOT does a study, they basically tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but they never really tell you why,” Avella said. “The visibility at that intersection is terrible. There are really bad traffic conditions. I’ve never understood why the DOT has not approved, at the very least, an all-way stop.”