Tag Archives: DOT

City to install pedestrian signs in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Finding your way around Long Island City is going to get easier.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the first phase of installations for the city’s new pedestrian sign system, WalkNYC. The program will install 100 free-standing signs by the end of the year in four initial areas including Chinatown, Herald Square and the Garment District in Manhattan, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Long Island City in Queens.

“You don’t need to be a tourist to feel turned-around on New York’s streets and this first-ever unified pedestrian sign system is a step in the right direction,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The signs, which already appear in more than 300 Citi Bike stations, will be installed in sidewalks and subway stations in the four areas. The maps will show streets, major points of interest and other info. The maps feature a “heads-up” design to show pedestrians the way the street appears in front of them.

Installation has already begun in Manhattan and will work its way around the four areas. The signs are scheduled to reach Long Island City in August.

“The launch of this new pedestrian navigation system will provide New Yorkers as well as millions of tourists who visit our city each year directly with the information they need to access some of the greatest attractions and essential venues we have to offer,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The program was established mainly through federal grants. Working together with community partners, the DOT was able to research, identify and note popular locations, primary routes and distinct points in each neighborhood. In Long Island City, the DOT has worked alongside the Long Island City Partnership as the program developed. Once the signs are installed, the LIC Partnership will be responsible for sign maintenance and monitoring for needed updates or repairs.

The DOT is also working with other business improvement districts and community partners to expand the pedestrian sign system to more neighborhoods around the city.

 

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Forest Hills biz owners: Parking plans would ‘kill us’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY MELISSA CHAN AND ROSA KIM

The city’s plans to make a dangerous Forest Hills intersection safer would crush local shops, business owners said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed turning 14 metered parking spots along Metropolitan Avenue, between 70th Drive and 71st Avenue, into No Standing zones.

The measure is meant to improve traffic flow, ease congestion and make the crosswalk safer for pedestrians and simpler for motorists, a DOT spokesperson said.

Thirteen people were injured at Metropolitan Avenue and 71st Avenue between 2006 and 2010, the DOT said. Two were pedestrians who were severely hurt. In 2011, a left-turning car struck and killed another person who was crossing the street.

But business owners said the change would devastate already struggling stores that rely on more than just foot traffic.

“Without parking spots, we cannot operate,” said Tony Sparacino of Father and Sons Florist. “As little as we have, we need them. It’ll kill the drugstore, the bakery, all of us.”

Sam Cardenli of Piccola Italia said parking is already sparse.

“Sometimes you go around and around and you don’t find any parking,” she said. “If they remove the parking from here, it’s going to make it harder for the customers and we’re going to lose business.”

The DOT said many Metropolitan Avenue businesses have their own parking lots. Surveys conducted by the department show low Muni Meter usage, with only a fraction of spaces being occupied throughout the week.

There are also plans to relocate the 71st Avenue bus stop to 70th Drive and install a painted center median with a left turn bay. The DOT said the projects are not yet scheduled.

“If it happens, there’s going to be an uproar,” Sparacino said.

Forest Hills resident Wolfgang Rapp said he crosses the intersection daily without thinking he is in danger.

“This intersection is nothing compared to Queens Boulevard, which is really a death trap,” he said. “Reasonable people cross the street in reasonable ways. They look around and cars don’t really speed. So that concern about the safety of this area, it’s a non-issue.”

Pedestrian Karah Michaels said she could see the logic behind moving the bus stop.

“Despite the lights, a lot could happen here,” she said. If it’s going to a street where there’s a lot less traffic, I think it would be a lot safer.”

 

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State lawmakers approve speed cameras near NYC schools


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The New York State Legislature passed a bill over the weekend allowing for the installation of speed cameras near 20 schools with documented speeding issues.

Drivers caught speeding by the cameras will face $50 fines.

“The Legislature has clearly stated that the streets around our schools should be safe havens, not speed traps. Speed cameras will help put a freeze frame on the number-one killer on our city’s roads,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Though the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, vehicle accidents increased from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012, and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths,” according to the DOT.

In March, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law for a city speed camera pilot program that would test 20 to 40 speed cameras at high-risk locations.

The DOT asked that priority be given to streets near schools with documented speeding problems.

But the following month, the state Legislature failed to include funding for the program when it passed the 2013-2014 budget.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has supported speed cameras along with the City Council and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, publicly lambasted local state Senators for failing to approve the pilot.

“[Speeding] remains the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in New York City, and we have long advocated in Albany for the authority to install speed cameras to help save lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement Saturday. “If a driver strikes a child at 40 miles per hour, there is a 70 percent chance the child will be killed. At 30 miles per hour, there is an 80 percent chance the child survives.”

 

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Maspeth residents continue to fight truck traffic


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Maspeth residents have road rage for big rig drivers.

Community leaders and residents held a rally at the intersection of 64th Street and Flushing Avenue on June 20 to bring attention to a perceived excess of tractor trailer traffic in the area.

Residents have long contended drivers ignore laws and use residential streets as shortcuts to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway. They say the trucks increase noise and pollution in the community and are calling for more enforcement by police.

“Maspeth deserves a community with fewer trucks,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “It’s one thing to have local deliveries, but it’s another thing to have huge trucks.”

In 2011, the city passed the Maspeth Bypass plan to prevent trucks from using local streets to make deliveries.

However, Crowley and others say drivers continue to exit the expressway and use Flushing and Grand Avenues when going to Brooklyn due to a lack of signs that direct trucks to streets they may use, and the fact the official truck map does not reflect changes in the plan. The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a map showing approved paths for trucks.

The 104th Precinct said while officers do ticket trucks for infractions, judges throw the cases out on grounds the signs and maps have not been changed.

“We’ve been trying to get the map adjusted, but as it stands, it still is a lawful route,” said Lieutenant George Hellmer of the 104th Precinct. Locals say the trucks — most of them 16- and 18-wheelers, but sometimes longer — rattle houses and awaken people when they go by as early as 2 a.m.

Residents also say the traffic light at 64th Street and Flushing Avenue has been knocked over and fixed multiple times as trucks have struggled to turn off Grand Avenue onto Flushing Avenue.

Residents are also concerned about children, citing an August 2010 incident in which a truck struck and killed 12-year-old Frederick Endres while the boy was riding his bicycle on Fresh Pond Road.

“This is a residential area and people just want to have peaceful lives,” said Anna Zacalunov, who lives on Grand Avenue.

As the rally progressed, residents counted the number of trucks that drove by. In an hour-and-a-half, more than 250 tractor trailers of varying sizes were seen up and down the intersection.

“They don’t care. They are giving us the finger, some of them,” said Roe Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together (COMET), the civic association that organized the rally. “Laws with no enforcement mean nothing.”

The next step for the community is to meet with DOT to get the maps changed and signs put up.

But not all residents think drivers are the only ones to blame.

“Also, I think they should ticket the dispatcher,” said Maspeth resident Bob Nastasi. “He’s the one telling these out-of-state guys where to go.”

 

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Parents, officials call for crosswalk outside Lindenwood school


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

As students poured out of school, a crowd gathered on the corner of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street in Lindenwood.

Passing through were parents and guardians, sometimes holding the hands of several children as they tried to cross 153rd Avenue toward the Lindenwood Shopping Center. The crossing guard shuttled people across 83rd Street, but could not stop traffic because there is no crosswalk.

Parents, teachers and community leaders rallied outside P.S. 232 on Friday, June 14. They urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install a crosswalk across 153rd Avenue at the corner of the school.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose daughters are students there, hosted the rally.

He said the goal was to first get a crosswalk, and then get proper signs to make the intersection a little safer. He added he has also spoken to the 106th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, who said a crosswalk there would increase safety

“I did have a conversation with Inspector Pascale,” Addabbo said. “He said he’s in favor of a crosswalk if they ask [...] He would want one here to allow his crossing guard to cross people.”

Community Board 10 would support a crosswalk plan if DOT were to come up with one for the street, Board chair Elizabeth Braton said.

“If DOT indicates that it’s safe from their standpoint of traffic engineering,” she said, “I don’t see any reason why the board would not support it.”

“We don’t feel safe without that crosswalk there,” said parent Lisa Neumann. “Hopefully, they’ll get our message.”
Stefanie Calise, whose son attends nearby P.S. 146 and gets dropped off at the intersection, said she nearly got hit by a car last week trying to cross the street.

Children “can’t cross that by themselves,” she said.

However, a DOT spokesperson said the intersection does not meet the criteria for a crosswalk under federal guidelines. Officials are looking into other ways to ease traffic at the intersection, the spokesperson said.

The most recent data DOT has to go by are from 2007 to 2011, when there were no injuries at the intersection.

Addabbo addressed the statistics at the rally and called for a more aggressive approach.

“Far too often, our city reacts to a bad situation,” he said. “They’ll give us statistics about not enough accidents here, not enough fatalities here. What we’re asking: let’s not be reactive, let’s be pro-active. Let’s prevent an accident.”

 

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Long Island City, Astoria bike lanes to get makeover


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano / Graphics courtesy of DOT

Vernon Boulevard’s bike lanes are set to get a makeover this summer to provide extra safety for riders and more space for drivers.

According to a plan the Department of Transportation (DOT) presented to Community Board 2 on June 6, the two one-way bike paths on each side of Vernon Boulevard would become a two-way protected lane. The lane would have a five-foot buffer running alongside the west side of the street. The lanes would also be painted green to provide easier visibility.

“This project is intended to knit together existing sections of the greenway by providing a continuous, protected bike lane serving neighborhoods along the East River waterfront,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera.

The existing bike lanes were set up as part of the Queens East River Greenway in 2008, which connects the waterfront from Hallet’s Cove in Astoria to 45th Road in Hunters Point.

After hearing community concerns over the lack of parking, DOT also plans to create a protected bike path through Rainey Park in Astoria. That would free up 35 parking spaces between 34th Avenue and 33rd Road.

According to the plan, the two-way bike lane will help beginning riders feel more comfortable on the streets and bring more bicyclists to the path. The wider path would allow joggers to benefit from the space, too.

“The project, which DOT has proposed for implementation this summer, has the support of Community Board 1 and the agency continues to work with Community Board 2 on this initiative,” said Mosquera.

 

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Board weighs in on DOT plan to fix Lindenwood parking problems


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Community Board (CB) 10 has approved a new plan, with amendments, to ameliorate parking problems on a Lindenwood block.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed the plan for 156th Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets. It would fix what a representative called a long-standing problem that is part of a larger infrastructure project on the border of Brooklyn.

Temporary parking lines would be painted diagonally on the island between east- and westbound traffic. As drivers head west, they will be able to pull into the spots — as opposed to parking in the middle of the street as many do now.

“Sometimes you have cars parking next to each other on this block, which could become a safety issue,” DOT representative Al Silvestri told the board.

The current plan has drivers backing out on to 156th Avenue, heading west, as they leave their spots. However, along that side of the street, there are homes with driveways that board members said might be in danger.

CB 10 suggested DOT flip the plan so drivers pull out on the eastbound side, where there are no driveways.

“If the parking was on the other side, angled the same way, it would not be a problem,” said Joann Ariola, a board member and president of the Lindenwood Alliance.

“We just want to make sure it works, because we don’t know how long we have to live with this,” she said.
Board members also suggested DOT officials explore putting in a concrete median with parallel parking on either side.

Silvestri said a median has been explored, but would result in fewer parking spots.

Although the board has voted on the change and added suggestions, DOT is not required to implement any of the amended plans.

 

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East Elmhurst gets slow zone


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Johann Hamilton

East Elmhurst residents are able to cross a little easier.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Deputy Commissioner Dalila Hall announced the East Elmhurst Slow Zone as part of the DOT’s Neighborhood Slow Zone initiative last week.

The DOT’s initiative is a community-based program that reduces the speed limit to 20 mph in order to increase pedestrian safety. The new slow zone — the sixth to be implemented in New York City and the second in the borough — will also look to lower the amount of traffic going through the neighborhood.

Dromm proposed the East Elmhurst Slow Zone to DOT last year in response to concerns he heard from the community.

“I am very pleased we were able to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to increase the safety of pedestrians in East Elmhurst,” he said. “These measures will make it safer for everybody, but especially for seniors and children, to walk through the neighborhood.”

The slow zone covers the area from Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue and from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to 82nd Street.

“Local neighborhoods streets are not highways, they are not short cuts — they are where we live,” said Hall. “Our residential streets need to be designed for this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets where people live more inviting and safer.”

The slow zone will also include important traffic calming features such as narrowing streets by instituting parking lanes and creating a painted median in the middle of 30th Avenue. DOT has also constructed speed bumps in the area, posted more signs with the new 20 mph speed limit and pushed street parking away from intersections in order to create a larger field of vision for motorists.

“It’s worth it because more precautions mean more lives saved,” said East Elmhurst resident Michelle Gomez, 39. “Although it might not be followed at first, it can always be enforced by the police.”

Later this month, Dromm will propose the creation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone, projected to stretch from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Pols want to speed up bike share expansion in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

With the much-anticipated Citi Bike Share scheduled to begin by the end of the month, local politicians are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to speed up expansion into western Queens.

On May 9, DOT set the Citi Bike Share’s start for the week of Memorial Day for annual members who sign up by May 17. The program is slated to open to daily and weekly members on June 2.

The program, which is operated by NYC Bike Share, will offer specially designed, durable bikes at docking stations around the city. Members can rent the bikes with special keys. They be available 24 hours a day year-round for 30 to 45 minutes at a go depending on the user’s membership plan.

The DOT plans to set up bike stations in Long Island City and Sunnyside within the year. Those are the only parts of the borough currently set to be covered by Citi Bike Share.

“Our community has worked for years to make western Queens more bike-friendly, and our efforts have been largely successful,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “I am pleased to see that Long Island City is included in future plans, and I hope that the program will be quickly expanded to more western Queens neighborhoods.”

In recent years, western Queens has been the recipient of many bike-related amenities. Queensboro Bridge now features improved bike access. Also, developments like the Queens East River and North Shore Greenway have delivered transportation alternatives to and from Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer will continue to work with DOT, Citi Bike Share and local groups to speed up the process of bringing bike stations to Long Island City and the rest of western Queens.

“While we are initially placing the stations in the densest contiguous parts of the city that would generate the most use of the bikes, there will be a chance to expand in the future based on demand and resources,” said DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel.

You can find a map of stations included in the current plan at citibikenyc.com/stations.

 

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Call for crossing guard at ‘dangerous’ Elmhurst intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A local politician and a school principal are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure the safety of pedestrians, especially school children, who cross a “dangerous” intersection.

In March, Senator Jose Peralta urged DOT to take a closer look at the intersection of Junction Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway in Elmhurst. The 110th and 112th Precincts had advised him neither would provide a crossing guard. A guard used to monitor the intersection.

“This is a very dangerous intersection for students and it is imperative that we have proper supervision at this corner,” P.S. 206 Principal Joan Thomas wrote in a request to bring back a school crossing guard. “I am very concerned about the safety of my children.”

P.S. 206, located at 61-02 98th Street, is near the heavily trafficked area. Students cross the intersection on their way between home and school every day.

“Every neighborhood needs safe streets to thrive,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “That’s why Junction Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway in Queens need to be made safe for local children, families and seniors.”

According to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the School Safety Engineering Office surveyed the area near P.S. 206 and found that all the signs and marking were in place and in fair conditions. Khan added that the DOT has asked its Signals Unit to consider installing Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI). LPIs give pedestrians time to begin crossing the street before the light turns green for drivers.

“Leading Pedestrian Intervals would be very helpful, and I hope the DOT can put them in place very soon,” Peralta said.

The senator is also calling for a speed camera.

“In the interim, I’m going to keep pushing in the Senate to allow the city to start installing speed cameras,” said Peralta, who is sponsoring a bill to that effect. “But that all said, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s no substitute for a crossing guard to ensure the safety of school children at a dangerous intersection like this one.”

As of press time, DOT did not respond to numerous calls and emails requesting traffic stats for the intersection. Crashstat.org noted one fatality there in 2006.

 

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Cambria Heights residents demand action after cars crash into accident-prone home


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

For residents of one Cambria Heights block, it was nothing new.

In the early morning hours of Friday, May 3, two cars reportedly collided and then careened into a home near the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 133rd Avenue. According to residents, traffic conditions create a high number of accidents in the area.

“This is something that’s been happening for a while,” said Roxanne Depeiza, who lives next door to the damaged home.

Depeiza said the home’s resident, Pat Austin, frequently deals with her property being damaged, with cars regularly knocking down her fence. Friday’s accident was the second time her stairs have been destroyed, according to Depeiza.

“Those stairs are her entrance and exit to the house,” she said. “What does she do now?”

Austin could not be reached for comment.

Depeiza said last month, two cars got into an accident on the block and slid into her own parked van, “totaling” it completely.

Along Francis Lewis Boulevard, one traffic light is at 133rd Avenue, with another a short distance away at Merrick Boulevard. Residents said that cars speed down the road to make green lights.

“Once that first light changes, you don’t have much time to make the second,” said David Varick, who lives on the block.

Depeiza said she has asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install speed bumps in the area, but to no avail.

The DOT said it has not received any requests, but will review the location for the applicability of safety enhancements.

The department added there have been no fatalities, pedestrian injuries or serious driver injuries at the intersection between 2007 and 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

“Somebody needs to do something about this before someone dies,” said Depeiza. “It’s getting worse every year. I could go on and on about how many accidents we see here.”

 

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Glendale underpass fix will ease flood problem


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A deteriorating Glendale underpass is getting a makeover. Come summer, it will be safer for both cars passing underneath and trains chugging overhead.

However, the community says there are still issues in the area that need to be addressed.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) took on the current $6 million capital reconstruction project in January 2012 on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). As of February, 65 percent of the work had been completed.

For the project, DDC is rebuilding the underpass’ retaining wall and installing new sidewalks along with six catch basins underneath.

“The retaining walls were in a state of disrepair,” a DDC spokesperson said. “We’re building a brand new underpass with new concrete walls, and we’re also installing additional catch basins to help remove storm water more quickly.”

However, community members are concerned about the potential for excess storm water.

“I don’t believe [this project] is going to do anything near what needs to be done to solve flooding problems in the Glendale community during heavy rains,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5.

Giordano recalled two incidents in which the underpass area collected a significant amount of water, once reaching 12 feet.

Giordano said possible fixes include enlarging the sewer line or installing a retainer tank to hold storm water until sewer plants can handle it.

“These rains are getting stronger and more frequent,” he said.

The community has been in talks with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and the DEP to resolve the issue.

Still, community members are glad about the DDC project.

“Panels on top of the retaining walls in some areas were so deteriorated, you could see the steel beneath,” said Giordano. “You don’t want those falling down on the street.”

 

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Parents, officials demand DOT action following accident near little league field


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Alec MacFarlen, a seven-year-old from Rosedale, was crossing the street near his little league field when he was hit by a speeding car on Monday, April 22.

Although McFarlen survived, locals have had enough.

The community has requested a traffic advisory on 147th Avenue between Brookville Boulevard and 232nd Street for years. But community members claim the Department of Transportation (DOT) never followed up.

Rosedale Little League President Bernie Brown said she and other parents have petitioned DOT since 2006 to put “any sort of traffic advisory” on the stretch of road that she calls dangerous.

“These cars will not let people cross the street,” Brown said. “There are parks on both sides of the street. This is an area filled with children.”

Brown said that when she got the call that McFarlen had been hit, she ran to the spot of the accident. She said the little leaguer had blood coming from his forehead and dripping down his face. Brown added that the youngster had to get four stitches on his head and still has scrapes on his face as well as a bruised ribcage.

“Even as an adult, you can’t cross the street,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “It’s nearly impossible.”

Still, there were no fatalities in the area or any surrounding intersection from 2007 to 2011, the most recent years for which data are available. One pedestrian injury was reported at Brookville Boulevard and 147th Avenue in 2010.

Richards and Brown said DOT representatives have been to the area to survey the traffic, but that they come during off-hours. According to Brown, during baseball season the intersection is at its busiest Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

A DOT spokesperson said representatives have been in touch with Richards and the little league about their concerns. The agency plans to re-examine the area to see if there are additional ways to enhance safety for everyone using the street.

The DOT studied the location for a traffic-control device and speed bump in 2009 and 2012, respectively, but the location did not meet the guidelines for installation, according to the spokesperson.

While DOT abides by federal rules, Richards suggested the city “reign in control” of the transportation organization as a possible solution.

“They’re going by federal regulations and we don’t have the pull we need to have them do better,” Richards said. “It’s really disturbing.”

Along with writing letters to DOT, Brown and parents have recently started to file complaints with 3-1-1 about the dearth of traffic devices.

“Set up a blinking yellow light, set up a ‘Children At Play’ sign,” she said. “We’re trying to do a sports program that will keep children off the streets and help mentor them. These kids need an outlet to get rid of some of their stress.”

“Thank god that this little boy—seven years old—has a strong body,” she continued. “He probably will heal, but this will be something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”

 

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Push for slow zones in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo By Angy Altamirano

In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.

Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.

Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.

But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”

About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.

Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.

“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.

A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.

“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”

Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.

The DOT did not respond as of press time.

 

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Pilot program launches pay-by-phone parking, spot availability map


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via Google Maps/NYC DOT website

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

The future is here.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced plans to create a new program that would allow drivers to pay parking meters remotely, as well as launching a real-time parking availability map.

“Today, we’re launching a pilot pay-by-phone parking initiative along 18 metered blocks in the Arthur Avenue Business Improvement District as well as an online parking availability map for the area that motorists or passengers can see on the web and on their smartphones,” said Bloomberg. “These new initiatives are just the latest examples of our work to bring parking and driving in New York City into the 21st century.”

Drivers can pay for their spots without the hassle of using money or a credit card at the meter via  a smartphone app called PayByPhone. To register, motorists must first sign up on the PayByPhone website, then enter their license plate numbers and credit card information. The app will send a text or email when the allotted time is about to expire, allowing the driver to add more time up to the allowed limit.

PayByPhone has already partnered with other cities, including San Francisco, Miami, London and Vancouver.

The parking availability program will use sensors embedded in streets to create a map accessible by any web enabled device, which will show when any spots are opened up. The mayor’s office hopes this program will cut down on the time motorists spend on hunting for spots.

Both pilot programs will be tested out across 264 spaces along 18 block faces near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, as well as at the Department’s Belmont Municipal Parking Field.

 

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