Tag Archives: DOT

‘Safe Routes’ coming to four Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Safer streets are coming soon to four Queens middle and elementary schools.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) confirmed it has selected a construction company to make adjustments around the schools to increase safety, as a part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Safe Routes to Schools program.

The safe routes program is a city-wide initiative that seeks to improve safety to city schools with the highest accident rates.

A DDC representative said the $3.3 million improvements will begin by the spring of 2014 around I.S. 77 in Ridgewood, St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Maspeth, St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights and P.S. 108 in South Ozone Park.

The work around the schools will include adding speed bumps, adjustment of streetlights and traffic signals, ramps to the sidewalks, work to improve the curbs for pedestrians, placement of bus pads in the streets and infrastructure and utility work.

These four schools are on DOT’s list of 135 priority schools for traffic safety improvements, which was originally created in 2003 by the city agency. Overall, there are 33 priority Queens schools on the list that are slated to see the improvements.

The work on the four schools is expected to be completed by the spring of 2015.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

Woodhaven Boulevard safety still in flux


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city’s five-year study on Woodhaven Boulevard safety improvements show some solutions worked better than others.

The thoroughfare, which connects Middle Village, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, among others, is one of the most trafficked in the borough and is prone to many accidents, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT officials collected feedback from residents and community leaders on the results of the study at a meeting on November 21.

“They have been very cooperative. They have accepted feedback, and they are trying to do the best that they can,” said Community Board 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri Jr. “I think we need to concentrate on the areas that seem that they’ll never be resolved and come up with out-of-the box solutions.”

Within the last three years, the DOT has implemented some ideas to reduce accidents on Woodhaven Boulevard, like extending sidewalks and medians in the stretch from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road, which gave pedestrians more space.

The DOT also made the southbound traffic on the service road at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard a “must turn right” lane in 2011. In 2012, they shrunk the two lanes of the service road into one because it was too narrow.

These solutions had varying results.

Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road had a total of 293 crashes from 2011 to 2012, up from an average of 254 accidents per year before the solutions were implemented, according to NYPD data.

However, accidents at Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard have decreased 29 percent to an average of 64 from 90 per year, according to the same data.

For future improvements, the DOT plans to change the service road on both sides on Woodhaven Boulevard between Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard into one lane of traffic and one parking lane. Currently, from one parking lane and two narrow lanes for traffic.

The department is also planning to create a dedicated bus lane on the northbound side, from the Belt Parkway to Liberty Avenue.

Some people felt more could be done on Woodhaven Boulevard. Not everyone at the meeting believed the solutions were assured to reduce accidents.

“The solutions are, in my opinion, theoretical,” said Community board 9 Chair Jim Cocovillo. “On paper, they are designed to work, but you know as well as I do that many times they don’t.”

After analyzing feedback from the community, the DOT will begin preparing to make the improvements for next year and continue to monitor the troubled thoroughfare.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

DOT begins process to bring Citi Bike to Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Citi Bike is slowly pedaling its way into western Queens.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun the process of bringing the Citi Bike Share Program into Long Island City, Sunnyside and now Astoria, by getting community input from Community Boards (CB) 1 and 2.

On Tuesday, the DOT began the first step of a long planning process of bringing Citi Bike to Astoria by introducing the plan to residents and board members during CB 1’s monthly meeting. Officials said this is only the beginning of a process that will take months and various community feedback meetings.

In August, State Senator Michael Gianaris announced he was working with the DOT to include Astoria in the future plans, which initially only included Long Island City and Sunnyside as Queens Citi Bike locations.

“I think it’s a great program that would provide unique benefits to western Queens,” said Gianaris. “I’m anxious to see a good program to include Queens as opposed to just Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

Gianaris said his push for the Citi Bike in western Queens arose after receiving a lot of input from residents and businesses. He also said it would work better for this area because although there are mass transit options available, some residents live a distance away from train stations. People from outside the area would be able to get to local restaurants, museums and other western Queens attractions.

The DOT will now conduct public discussions, collecting resident feedback and suggesting possible station locations in Astoria.

The senator said the only big community concern is fear that the DOT could remove parking spaces when they install the Citi Bike stations.

“We have to do the work to get it done now,” said Gianaris.

After the planning process is completed, the DOT will then have to find the funding for the stations.

The DOT has completed the planning process and station location selection with CB 2 for the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Long Island City. Working together with the community, 11 locations have been selected and the DOT is waiting for resources to become available to install those stations.

The 11 locations are either in no-parking areas, sidewalks, public parks and plazas, or private property. A map of the planned stations can be found at http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/station-map.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in May, but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Slow zones coming to western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Johann Hamilton

Residents in western Queens will soon be able to cross their streets more safely.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will install slow zones in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside, and Sunnyside south of Queens Boulevard, according to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. The slow zones, set for 2015, will be designed through input from the community.

“By installing these two slow zones in western Queens, we will have tremendous impact on improving the safety of pedestrians who walk along heavily trafficked corridors in our neighborhoods,” said Van Bramer. “I believe it is vital to use every tool we have to protect the lives of residents on our city’s streets.”

The locations, which are part of 15 communities chosen to receive slow zones over the next three years, were selected based on the DOT’s evaluation on crash history, community support, the proximity of schools and seniors and day care centers, along with other data.

The Sunnyside slow zone would be bordered by 36th Avenue, Queens Boulevard, Greenpoint Avenue, 49th Street and parts of the Long Island and Brooklyn-Queens Expressways. The Sunnyside Gardens and Woodside Slow Zone would be surrounded by 43rd Street, Barnett Avenue, 58th Street and a part of Queens Boulevard.

The goal of the Neighborhood Slow Zone program is to lower the number of crashes and “to enhance quality of life by reducing cut through traffic and traffic noise in residential neighborhoods,” according to the fact sheet.

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

“Speeding is the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in our city,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last month. “Slow zones have shown proven results in curbing dangerous driving and we want more neighborhoods to benefit from the program.”

According to the DOT, a slow zone has also been proposed for Jackson Heights in 2014.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens kids walk to ‘Beat the Street’ in worldwide competition


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Queens kids are hitting the pavement and “beating the street” in a worldwide competition.

Ozone Park’s J.H.S. 210 is participating in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Education (DOE) competition, “Beat the Street,” in which local students log walking trips to and from school and compete against youth from around the world.

“The Beat the Street Program has been wonderful,” said J.H.S. 210 principal Rosalyn Allman-Manning. “There is increased awareness of the healthy benefits of walking to school and reciprocal caring for others, which is what we emphasize.”

Ozone Park students and kids from I.S. 141 in Astoria have been logging miles and competing with students in England and China. Borough kids swipe a keycard at any “Beat Box” location, installed by the DOT at points along major pedestrian routes to each of the two schools. Students collect points based on the number of swipes.

“Good habits can last a lifetime, and we’re teaching kids to put their best foot forward early by learning the importance that walking plays in a healthy lifestyle,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT Commissioner.

Manning said some of her students meet on the way to school, so there’s “safety in numbers” as they walk to the Beat Boxes. They also have begun to remind each other to swipe their cards.

The program started October 15 and will go until November 8. Each participating school and students with top scores will receive prizes, and the winning school will receive $1,000.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Woodside residents put up community stop sign to demand safer streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer’s Office

Woodside residents are taking matters into their own hands to make it safer to cross their streets.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with residents young and old on October 25 to rally against the dangerous traffic conditions along 47th Avenue in Woodside. The group then also put up their own community-made stop sign at the intersection of 47th Avenue and 60th Street.

“The reckless speeding and steady traffic along 47th Avenue presents serious safety hazards to countless young school children and seniors who cross the street every single day,” said Van Bramer. “We are taking matters into our own hands.”

The surrounding community is home to two Big Six Towers co-op apartment buildings and the Towers Play and Learn nursery school, bringing large numbers of children and seniors crossing 47th Avenue to get to school or the co-op’s senior program.

Van Bramer’s office has been contacting the Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2010 asking for traffic calming measures, like speed bumps and stop signs, to be installed along 47th Avenue between 59th and 61st Streets.

According to the councilmember, the DOT has said that based on their studies such additional measures were not necessary in the area.

“The time to act is now,” said Van Bramer. “Without a stop sign at this heavily trafficked intersection or speed humps along this street, the chances of an accident happening will continue to escalate.”

Based on the latest data available, between 2001 and present day, there have been no fatalities at the intersection and one reported pedestrian injury.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority,” said spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “While the agency’s recent study of this location last winter found that it did not meet the federal guidelines for additional stop signs, DOT will review the location to see what potential enhancement can be made, including adding a temporary speed board at the location to remind drivers of the safety reasons for adhering to the speed limit.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Community pushes for pedestrian safety in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Update Tuesday, October 1, 6:00 p.m. 

After three pedestrians were struck in the last three months — two fatally and one left in critical condition — the western Queens community is asking for safer traffic measures. 

According to police, on Friday, September 13 a woman was struck and killed as she was crossing Queens Plaza North and 27th Street. Just two month before, on July 2, another woman was struck and critically injured on 29th Street, just two blocks down. 

“We have a growing epidemic where pedestrians are not safe on the sidewalks and the streets of Queensboro Plaza,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who recently helped bring improvements to an intersection in front of LaGuardia Community College where a 16-year-old high school student was struck and killed in March. “Dutch Kills and Long Island City are home to thousands of new residents as well as hundreds of growing businesses. More and more people are crossing through Queensboro Plaza every single day.”

Van Bramer gathered along with other elected officials and residents on Friday, September 27 at the intersection of Queens Plaza North and 27th Street to ask the Department of Transportation (DOT) for street safety enhancements to the busy plaza near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. 

The changes to increase pedestrian safety at Queensboro Plaza include extending the current 20 second countdown clocks at the crosswalks to give pedestrians more time to cross the congested streets and installing more street signage allowing pedestrians to be more alert of bicycle lanes.

“Crossing Queens Plaza should not be like playing Frogger,” said Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “We’re sending the message that traffic crashes are preventable.”

According to the DOT, between 2007 to 2011, there has been one reported pedestrian injury at the intersection of Queens Plaza North and 27th Street and from 2007 to present, there has been one fatality.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority and the agency is currently reviewing the location to see if there are ways to further enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area for all street users, including possible upgrades to signage,” said Nicholas Mosquera, DOT spokesperson.

A day after the call for safety measures in Queens Plaza, 19 year old Luis Bravo lost his life in a hit-and-run along Broadway in Woodside.

“Yet another person has been killed here in western Queens as a result of a vehicular collision,” said Van Bramer. “For over a year now the Department of Transportation has not done anything about motorists speeding along Broadway here in Woodside. Every time a pedestrian is struck and dies as a result of a vehicular collision we will speak out against it.”

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

The councilmember gathered with local officials and residents on October 1 at the corner of 58th Street and Broadway where Bravo was struck and the vehicle fled the scene, to ask the DOT to bring safety measures to that area as well.

“It is heartbreaking anytime a young person’s life is lost, but this instance hurts because it was so sudden and the driver who killed Luis and sped off is still at large,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “I urge everyone in our community to join together to bring this hit-and-run driver to justice, and I urge the DOT to do everything it can to make our streets safer.”

Anyone with information on the hit-and-run is encouraged to contact NYPD’s Crime Stoppers by calling 800-577-TIPS.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children


| oped@queenscourier.com


COUNCILMEMBER ELIZABETH CROWLEY

Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Ozone Park could be home to new pedestrian plaza


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes / Renderings courtesy of the DOT

A pedestrian plaza could be coming to an area of Ozone Park the Department of Transportation (DOT) said is under-utilized and in need of more open space.

The Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service (BACDYS) applied to create a plaza at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue near Drew Street, just on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

The plan already has the support of Brooklyn Community Board (CB) 5, as well as area businesses in both boroughs and local elected officials, including Councilmember Eric Ulrich, according to the DOT. Community Board (CB) 9 will vote on the proposal next month.

 

“The project would provide additional open space, serving pedestrians and customers of local businesses,” said a DOT spokesperson.

However, reservations still exist for CB 9.

The plaza would close off the Drew Street through-way from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue and would also change both streets from two-way to one-way. Eleven parking spots would also be lost.

Mary Ann Carey, CB 9’s district manager, said these are the “biggest issues” for the board.

“Why didn’t they choose a much a much larger plaza,” she asked, pointing to the space near Elderts Lane and Liberty Avenue just a few blocks down.

She continued that now the board is “just fact finding” and preparing for next month’s vote.

The DOT said this particular proposed area has an active retail business and existing open space, and is being under-utilized.

If approved, BACDYS would be responsible for the upkeep of the public plaza, which anyone can visit and also apply to hold events.

The plaza, whose cost was unclear as of press time, would be made up of gravel, granite blocks, planters, flexible delineators, movable tables and chairs, benches, permanent bench seating and bike parking, similar to other city plazas.

After the CB 9 vote, the DOT projects a potential implementation in late September. Public outreach for a permanent plaza design would then begin in the spring of 2014.

 

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pols call for traffic calming measures in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A group of leaders in Fresh Meadows are trying to put the brakes on lead-footed drivers who they say whiz down a stretch of homes daily.

The speeding motorists use 75th Avenue, a residential road, to bypass traffic on Union Turnpike, according to Councilmember James Gennaro.

For about one mile, between Utopia Parkway and 164th Street, drivers need only slow down twice for a speed bump and a stop sign, local leaders said.

“It’s a straight run” otherwise, Gennaro said. “It creates a very dangerous situation for people living in and around 75th Avenue on this particular stretch.”

At least four people were injured near 75th Avenue and 172nd Street between 2007 and 2011, according to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), though none were severely hurt.

That number jumped to 14 in 2012, according to a spokesperson for Gennaro, who said crashes and near collisions are increasing as more drivers discover the detour.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic said she recently saw a speeding driver jump the curb in an attempt to avoid hitting another car.

“It missed and parked on top of a lawn,” she said. “It’s actually not the first time that I’ve seen that on 75th Avenue. Enough is enough. We really need to figure out a strategic and innovative way to calm the neighborhood to speeding traffic.”

Gennaro said his office has made three requests for traffic studies since 2011. The calls for an all-way stop sign at 172nd Street and 75th Avenue were all denied by the DOT, the councilmember said.

“It’s frustrating,” Gennaro said. “The Department of Transportation has to figure something out. This situation may not lend itself to some kind of cookie cutter solution, but there has to be some sort of solution.”

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said the location did not meet federal guidelines for more traffic controls. However, he said the department is looking into other measures.

The legislators proposed putting speed bumps instead of stop signs in problematic parts of 75th Avenue. A DOT feasibility study for the measure is not slated to be finished until October.

“A speed bump is a true traffic calming device,” Gennaro said. “That’s what it’s made for, to slow traffic down and make it a less desirable alternative to Union Turnpike.”

Principal Mary Scheer of nearby Holy Family School said traffic along 75th Avenue will only increase in the meantime.

“They want to keep speeding. I’ve seen cars pass each other on this road. It’s very dangerous,” she said. “There’s total neglect of any of the rules of the road on this street.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Speed cameras to go into effect near city schools September 9


| dromano@homereporter.com

Photo courtesy of the New York City Mayor’s Office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan have announced that the speed camera pilot program would roll out at yet-to-be-determined locations near schools citywide beginning the first day of school, Monday, September 9.

The law allows the city to install speed cameras at 20 locations within a quarter mile of schools in high crash locations and it allows the city to rotate the cameras to school locations across the five boroughs. The cameras would work much like the red-light cameras already in place; they would not photograph the driver or share the license plate number of the car.

Default penalties for speeding would be set at $25 with a maximum penalty of $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for speeding over 30 miles above the speed limit.

The mayor and commissioner were joined by NYPD Chief of Transportation James Tuller on Monday, August 26 at W.E.B. Dubois High School in Crown Heights, one of the candidates to receive speed camera technology nearby due to a high crash rate in its vicinity.

“Keeping streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is one of the most important public safety challenges any government faces,” said Bloomberg. “Our streets are the safest they have ever been, due in large part to our enforcement efforts and innovative traffic engineering that have brought traffic fatalities to record lows. Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our city’s streets safer for everyone.”

“Over the last six years, we’ve kept an unrelenting focus on the safety of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and with speed cameras we’re now putting an even sharper focus on safety near our schools,” Sadik-Khan added. “Motorists who play fast and loose on our streets need to learn the critical lesson that the New York City’s speed limit is 30 mph for a reason, and that it’s literally the difference between life and death.”

Transportation Alternatives has been working with the DOT and community groups to identify the best locations for the cameras. Since August 14, 72 requests have been made for 220 locations.

“New Yorkers want to save lives and they know speed cameras will do just that,” said Paul Steely White, TA’s executive director. “Just in time for the school year, several dozen school zones will be safer. We look forward to the day when every school has the same protection against reckless drivers.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Citi Bike share program headed to Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Citi Bike is coming to Astoria.

Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) has yet to set a timetable as to when the Citi Bike share program will be coming into Queens, Senator Michael Gianaris has announced he has worked with the DOT to include Astoria in the future plans.

“Citi Bike will be a great addition to Astoria, which has a growing cycling community and is already one of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city,” said Gianaris.

Astoria now joins Long Island City and Sunnyside as future locations in the borough for the Citi Bike share program.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase which debuted in May but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

The DOT previously told The Courier that although the expansion into Long Island City was delayed, it is working to bring the Citi Bike stations to the neighborhood as soon as possible. “Bike share will allow people to enjoy the neighborhood in a fun and healthy way and will help people more easily travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” said Gianaris.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Safety improvements at fatal Long Island City intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Months after 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was struck and killed near LaGuardia Community College, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has answered students and residents’ pleas for safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at the Applied Communications High School inside the community college’s building, died after being struck by a minivan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street in Long Island City. Four of five other pedestrians hit in the same incident were students at LaGuardia.

After Drudak’s death, residents, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and LaGuardia Community College officials called on the DOT to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection.

“No New Yorker should feel their life is in jeopardy when they are walking along the sidewalks of our City streets” said Van Bramer.

Since April, the DOT has implemented short-term improvements including adjusting the timing of signals near the intersection and installing pedestrian countdown signals at Thomson and Skillman Avenues, 30th Street, 30th Place, 31st Street and 31st Place. The agency has also added signs and improved markings at Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street.

In the latest changes, the DOT said it has redesigned Thomson and Skillman Avenues by closing the slip ramp and making it illegal for vehicles to makes left turns from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue.

The department added it has installed new signs and plastic markers to limit left turns from Thomson Avenue to 30th Street.

There is also a brand new 550-square-foot pedestrian space at the intersection of 30th Street and Thomson Avenue. It is bordered by stone blocks, plastic markings and six planters.

According to the DOT, all the changes were aimed at improving safety for the large volume of students and residents that walk through the intersection daily.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Residents: Area around Whitestone park unsafe for pedestrians


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Getting to and from a Whitestone playground is no walk in the park, some residents say.

The lack of a crosswalk or traffic controls at the 3rd Avenue and 147th Street entrance to Francis Lewis Park is dangerous to pedestrians, said Malba Civic Association president Alfredo Centola.

“It’s a beautiful park,” Centola said. “These poor kids, with their parents, whenever they come to the park to play, they have to take their lives in their hands.”

Most residents must cross three-way traffic to enter and leave the park, located at the edge of the East River, since the majority of homes in the area lie across 147th Street.

Irene Rama of Whitestone said sometimes she and her kids are forced to stop in the middle of the street to avoid an oncoming car even after stopping to look in every direction beforehand.

Residents say a piece of property, bordered by jutting construction boards, that is being developed directly next to the park impairs the vision of pedestrians trying to cross.

“It’s a long stretch,” said Rama. “There are kids running all the time. There should be something here. It’s a huge intersection.”

Mark Felber, 67, who lives down the street from the park, said he would like to see better traffic controls.

“This is a popular street,” he said. “I have grandkids. They run over there and there’s no stop sign.”

There were no injuries at the intersection in question between 2007 and 2011, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

But the department said there were four serious ones from car accidents, not involving pedestrians, during that period at 3rd Avenue and the westbound Whitestone service road.

“While DOT has not received any recent requests related to this location, the agency will study the applicability of a stop sign or other traffic controls at 3rd Avenue and 147th Street as well as the feasibility of speed bumps in the area,” the spokesperson said.

Centola said he has sent the DOT a letter of complaint every 18 months since 2005.

Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy mailed the civic leader a response in 2011 saying the department completed an analysis and determined “Multi-Way Stop controls are not recommended at this time.”

“Factors such as vehicular and pedestrian volumes, vehicular speeds, visibility and signal spacing were all taken into consideration in making our determination,” the correspondence reads.

Shortly after the letter, the city installed one pedestrian crossing sign in front of the park, but it only faces one direction of traffic. Centola said the sign is also too high for drivers to see.

“At this point, I’m speechless and dumbfounded,” he said. “The DOT is once again being negligent and refusing to take care of the issues.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Long Island City neighborhood calls for traffic safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND BENJAMIN FANG

As the Dutch Kills neighborhood in Long Island City continues to grow, local politicians and residents are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve traffic safety.

“The city must ensure that its priority remains the safety of neighborhood residents,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “We are trying to be proactive on this side of the plaza and make sure that the residents and people who are staying in hotels here are safe as they walk the streets and visit all the new businesses.”

According to Gianaris and Dominic Stiller, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, there have been six to seven car crashes and accidents over the past several months at intersections in the neighborhood from 38th Avenue and 40th Avenue to 21st Street and 30th Street.

Through a petition, residents are asking the DOT for curb extensions, speed bumps, more four-way stop signs, new stop signs and enforcement of existing traffic laws to reduce speeding and unsafe driving as well as enhance pedestrian safety.

“This is a topic where lives can be saved,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We don’t want to wait until someone dies here before the Department of Transportation takes all of these really good suggestions.”

A DOT spokesperson said safety is department’s first priority. Nicholas Mosquera added the DOT has met with Gianaris to discuss safety enhancements at 39th Avenue and 29th Street, an area which the agency is reevaluating for extra stop signs and marking upgrades. The DOT is also inspecting the Queensboro Plaza area to figure out if there are any additional methods needed to increase safety.

The DOT has also launched an outreach initiative in the area and positioned street safety managers to help pedestrians and bicyclists near Dutch Kills Park.

“This initiative is part of a citywide campaign to educate and promote shared responsibility for everyone using the streets,” said Mosquera said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES