Tag Archives: accidents

More traffic agents, safety devices near Flushing Commons site


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

Hoping to ease the pain for drivers and pedestrians, the city is bringing more traffic agents and safety devices to downtown Flushing.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the measures during Wednesday’s meeting of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s Flushing Commons Task Force. The advisory body was formed last year to focus on congestion issues related to the billion-dollar Flushing Commons project, a complex of housing, shops and businesses rising on a former municipal parking lot.

As of Wednesday, teams of two NYPD traffic enforcement agents were assigned to the intersections of 37th Avenue and Main Street as well as Roosevelt Avenue and Union Street. A single traffic agent was stationed at the corner of 37th Avenue and 138th Street.

Trottenberg said the DOT will also create a left-turn-only lane from 37th Avenue onto Main Street and install a temporary all-way stop sign at the corner of 37th Avenue and 138th Street.

Each of the measures, she noted, aims to improve traffic flow and increase safety for both drivers and pedestrians traveling through downtown Flushing near the Commons site.

“The task force appreciates the commitment by the DOT, the NYPD and the developers to consider all possible measures to enhance traffic flow and pedestrian safety in Flushing’s downtown core,” Katz said. “These actions are sound steps that demonstrate the DOT’s commitment, and continual engagement by all stakeholders is necessary to keep the economic engine of downtown Flushing running amidst the building pains of development.”

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Ron Kim, City Councilman Peter Koo and Community Board 7 Chairperson Chuck Apelian all expressed support for the new safety measures.

Congestion in Flushing has been problematic for years; the downtown area has the highest per capita number in Queens of vehicular accidents resulting in pedestrian injury or death.

Flushing’s traffic woes increased in the area around the Commons site after work started last year. Several entrances and exits on Union Street were shut down, and a bus terminus was relocated onto 128th Street between 37th and 39th avenues, shifting many buses through the neighborhood.

Katz formed the task force last year to engage city agencies and F&T Group, Flushing Commons’ developer, with local business groups and civic leaders to find ways to alleviate Flushing’s traffic problems. Since December, the DOT — at the task force’s urging — amended a pedestrian walkway permit at the Commons site, shifting it into a parking lane. This, the borough president’s office noted, helped improve traffic flow through the neighborhood.

Along with the measures announced Wednesday, Trottenberg said the DOT is contemplating the following additional measures to further improve traffic conditions in Flushing:

  • Reversing the direction of traffic on one-way 38th Avenue;
  • Creating a right-turn lane from 37th Avenue onto Main Street;
  • Temporarily removing parking spaces on 37th Avenue and 138th Street immediately adjacent to the Flushing Commons construction site; and
  • Installing new stop signs, traffic signals and/or enhanced street markings at several other intersections, including 37th Avenue and 138th Street, Union Street and 38th Avenue, Main Street and 37th Avenue, 39th Avenue and Union Street, and Roosevelt Avenue and Union Street.

 

Dangerous Sunnyside intersection prompts DOT study


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

A transit advocacy group is moving to make changes to a hazardous Sunnyside intersection.

Representatives from the Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives say the juncture of Borden Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, running above the Long Island Expressway, is perilous for pedestrians and cyclists due to unclear markings and poorly-timed traffic signals.

“Frankly, it’s an absolute nightmare,” said Transportation Alternatives member Steve Scofield, who rides his bike through the intersection frequently. “There really is no safe way for a pedestrian or cyclist to get through the intersection safely.”

Many northbound cyclists choose to navigate the intersection illegally to optimize safety, crossing Greenpoint Avenue and riding against traffic on the southbound side. Scofield said it’s safer for bike rides to move in the opposite direction rather than be at the mercy of drivers with limited visibility. Nearly half of cyclists who cross the intersection use this method.

According to Streetsblog.com, a cyclist was struck and killed by a livery cab at the intersection in April 2012.

The driver of the cab was not charged with any crime. According to CrashStat.org, since 1998 there have been four accidents at the crossing, all of which resulted in injuries.

In order to create a safer intersection, Scofield wants to implement protected left signals and shared lanes for bikes and cars; convert Hunters Point Boulevard into a westbound one-way street; and add more lights for cyclists and pedestrians.

In August 2012, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer sent a letter to then Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy, alerting her to the traffic calming measures needed at this intersection.

“This daunting intersection has had a history of accidents in recent years due to a lack of the appropriate traffic light timing and issues with speed control,” said Van Bramer. “These hazards have put the lives of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in danger and action must be taken before another life is lost. ”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the agency will conduct a study on the intersection based on Community Board 2’s recommendations.

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Residents push for safer Whitestone intersection


| mchan@queenscourier.com

accident photow

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.”