2005-12-07 / Features

Danger in Queens, But Nobody Cares!

By Dr. Dan Miller

Photos DMD
Exposed transformer box southbound on the Van Wyck Expressway.
Photos DMD Exposed transformer box southbound on the Van Wyck Expressway.

Have you ever witnessed a serious accident and not tried to do something to help those who were injured? Probably not! Have you ever passed a smoking fire and not think about reporting it to the fire department? Unlikely! Have you ever passed an opened electrical power transformer box with large frayed wires exposed and totally ignored the potentially dangerous situation?

Well, apparently thousands of New Yorkers who commute by auto on the Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck Expressway traveling southbound between The Long Island Expressway and Jamaica Avenue each day do just that, and unfortunately so does the City of New York.

About six months ago, this writer was driving southbound on the Van Wyck Expressway, just after the Jackie Robinson Parkway exit, on my way to visit my 95 year old mom who lives in Brooklyn, when I observed an electrical transformer box, which normally had a locked protective door that now appeared to be wide open. My instinct told me that I should stop and investigate the situation, which I did. Low and behold, not only did I find a wall safe-like electrical transformer panel box left open, I found two of them with one of the doors ripped off and resting quietly on the ground. The opened panel box exposed some large frayed cables. The situation looked scary. See photos and decide for yourself what you would have done had you seen this on your way to or from work.

I did what I thought every true blooded New Yorker would do, I dialed 911 on my cell phone. I called the city's emergency help line call number, 911, and reported my findings to an operator who promptly and politely asked me for my name and phone number. I did so followed by my observations and the exact location where the electrical panel boxes are located. When our conversation ended I had a good feeling all over my body, you know that sensation like when your child or student receives an award or graduates from school or wins an election. I believed that perhaps I made a difference to help someone to avoid being injured in the future and maybe I saved our city from facing a negligence law suit for not correcting what appears to be a very dangerous situation. Wrong! I had that special good feeling all over but it appears that I my calls for help accomplished nothing.

Three months later I passed the location again, again on the way to visit my now sick 95 year old mom in Brooklyn and I found the situation had not changed except for the fact that we had all aged six months. For readers of this paper who agree with the public announcements made by the police department that ask all of us to act as the eyes and ears of our government, to assist our leaders to keep us safe from terrorists and maybe what this experience has thaught me, as well from old electrical transfer panel boxes that appear to have been burglarized and left exposed posing a potential dangerous condition to New Yorkers.

If Mayor Bloomberg, or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are reading this story perhaps you will take a ride with this writer to the scene so we can investigate together what appears to be a dangerous situation in Queens that nobody seems to care about but one that could be a threat to the safety and health of thousands of New Yorkers who drive by without blinking an eyelash and without knowing what danger lurks in those electrical panel boxes.

For those who actually may be interested in correcting the situation you can find these two electrical transfer panel boxes on the Southbound Van Wyck Expressway at the underpass of Union Turnpike, just a few blocks from Queens Borough Hall.

I did what I thought every true blooded New Yorker would do, I called 311, who told me that this required a call to 911. I called 911 for a second time. I was asked for my name and phone number and told that the situation would be reported to the local police precinct for investigation.

To this day, six months after my initial call the problem still exists.

Is the city waiting for some teens to pass by and decide to explore the two open electrical transfer panel boxes? I'm not sure. But I do know one thing, the city tends to act faster when the media get into the picture.

It is time that calls to 911 receive better attention.

For all readers who wish to stay on top of this story you can travel South on the Van Wyck Expressway from the LIE south towards Kennedy Airport. Just before the Jamaica Avenue Exit you will pass under Union Turnpike. If you stay on your right you will see the electrical transfer panel boxes. Check out if they are still opened or has the city finally corrected this potentially dangerous situation after more than six months of having been notified, not once but at least two times by this writer, who considers himself a regular true blooded New Yorker, and a resident of Queens.

See my photos and decide for yourself if you would have stopped had you observed the opened panel boxes.

Dr. Dan Miller is a well respected freelance photojournalist, former high school athlete, and retired NYC school and college administrator. He is an advocate of public education and a proponent of children’s issues and the rights of student athletes. Dr. Miller is the anchor of, Focus on Education, a segment on the popular weekly radio show Real Talk with Jim Lisa…. on WRTN 93.5FM, broadcast on Thursday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and the co-host of The Dance Master, where is also anchors Dr. Dane’s Hometown Sports Heroes, broadcast on Tuesday night at midnight on WRTN 93.5FM in New York, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut. Dr. Miller writes stories about news, education and sports. He covers the New York Mets, the New York Jets, the New York Giants and St. John’s University Big East Men and Women Varsity Basketball. He currently lives in Queens, New York with his Chocolate Lab, Cagey.

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