2001-12-05 / Front Page

114th Pct. Cops Off Triboro Bridge Duty

114th Pct. Cops Off Triboro Bridge Duty

By Richard Gentilviso

Entrance checkpoints to the Triborough Bridge are no longer being manned by police officers from the 114th Precinct, said Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector James O’Brien, although he told the 114th Pct. Community Council that police officers from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) continue to maintain checkpoints at the bridge entrance on 31st Street.

Complaints about traffic gridlock, especially during the morning rush hour, at the intersection of 31st Street and the Triborough entrance, were raised at last month’s community council meeting, but at the November council meeting, held at Riccardo’s, O’Brien said the traffic problem was not due to the checkpoints, which he termed as "soft", or not stopping every vehicle that passed. O’Brien cited the ban on single occupancy vehicles into Manhattan on bridges and tunnels below 63rd Street between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. as a more likely cause for the traffic congestion. The Triborough Bridge is unaffected by the restrictions and is an alternative to commuters driving alone as a way around the ban into Manhattan.

For example, on November 14 at the Queens–Midtown Tunnel 11,180 vehicles crossed into Manhattan between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., a decline of 23 percent from one year earlier, according to the MTA; but on the same day at the Triborough Bridge the number of vehicles normally crossing was up by 891.

O’Brien said officers from the 114th are now helping with checkpoints at the Queens Borough Bridge, along with the National Guard. The 108th Precinct, generally responsible for the south side of Queens Plaza and the bridge, required assistance because the Queens–Midtown Tunnel entrance lies within it.

The restrictions on solo drivers were imposed by an emergency order of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after September 11 because of severe traffic conditions that were impeding access to the World Trade Center disaster site in Lower Manhattan, where many streets were completely closed.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) says a drop of 38 percent in traffic (number of cars) coming into Manhattan between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. has resulted from the ban, but acknowledges traffic does increase before and after the restrictions, which are expected to remain in effect at least until the end of the year and probably longer.

"They’re inconveniences, inconveniences that we have to put up with," said O’Brien, warning motorists to stay out of the gridlock box or risk a summons. The city plans to strictly enforce "Don’t Block the Box" regulations during the holiday season.

O’Brien reported a "very good four weeks" for the 114th Precinct in major index crimes with a reduction year to date of almost 10 percent (9.9) at the end of October, up from 8 percent at the end of September. He was also pleased to report grand larceny crimes were "now a negative instead of a positive," jargon for down instead of up, and said the precinct was successful in all of the major index crime categories except for rape.

But without diminishing the importance of the crime, O’Brien cautioned, "There is no substantial increase in the number of forcible (rape) cases and no serial (rape) incidents in the community." The increase in reported rapes, he explained, included a disproportionate number of statutory cases, involving minor females with adult male "boyfriends."

A drop of 27 percent in crime in the last month alone for the 114th led O’Brien to say, "I think we’re leading the borough." Citywide, crime is down 13 percent overall, although according to the most recent statistics the number of shootings in the city has risen for the third straight week in comparison to a year ago.

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