2009-02-25 / Features

Traffic Light Installed At Intersection After 41 Years

After 41- years of rejected pleas, a busy intersection at 21st Street and 30th Drive in Astoria that was the scene of numerous accidents and at least one fatality now has a traffic light, thanks in large part to more than seven years of relentless efforts on the part of City Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. "Every year of hard work was worth it, knowing that our residents will now be safer," Vallone Jr. said.

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, of which Vallone Jr.'s grandfather, Judge Charles J. Vallone, was a co-founder, is located at the southeast corner of the intersection. Since the club facility was built in 1955, concerned residents often made requests and club officers also raised numerous concerns over the hundreds of young members forced to cross a busy street without a traffic light. In 1968, Vallone Jr.'s father, Peter F. Vallone Sr., then president of the Astoria Civic Association, wrote to a number of agencies, including then Mayor John Lindsay's office, asking that a traffic signal be installed. Even as these efforts were made, two brothers, ages seven and 11, were hit by cars in two separate incidents in 1972 and many other accidents occurred over the years, including one involving a young man who was killed in a hit-and-run. But even after years of requests, numerous injuries and at least one death, the former Department of Traffic, now the Department of Transportation, said an investigation had been conducted and DOT studies had concluded there was no need for a light.

After he succeeded his father in the City Council in November 2001, Vallone Jr. spearheaded renewed efforts to bring a traffic light to the corner of 21st Street and 30th Drive on taking office in January 2002. After more than seven years of work on his part, capping more than 20 years of work by his father and 40 years of community and Variety Boys & Girls Club officials, the much sought-after traffic light was quietly installed on Oct. 1, 2008.

"It helps me sleep better, now that our kids can safely cross the street," Variety Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Karen Johnson said.

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