2016-01-20 / Front Page

Call For More Safety At Dutch Kills Intersection

By Liz Goff
The ride may be getting a bit bumpy for motorists who speed through a Dutch Kills intersection where a young boy was recently struck by a van.

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer visited the site at 29th Street and 39th Avenue last week, where he called on officials at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install increased safety measures that could help save lives.

The Queens lawmaker said local surveillance footage shows the boy as he approached the intersection. “He carefully steps into the roadway watching for oncoming traffic,” Van Bramer said. “But despite taking every precaution, he is sideswiped by a large van turning right turn onto 39th Avenue,” Van Bramer said.

Reviewing the footage was “scary,” Van Bramer said. “Knowing it could have been much worse.”

Neighborhood residents voiced their concern about traffic safety at the highly trafficked intersection that takes motorists from the Queens Plaza transportation hub through 30th Avenue in Astoria.

“These guys drive like lunatics” Elisa Prighetti said. “I was born and raised right here, and I moved back when I got married. Traffic was always crazy on 29th Street, from the Plaza and up, but at least they stopped at the signs,” she said. “The difference now, is they just don’t care, because they feel like they own the road.”

Neighbor Evelyn Quinn told Van Bramer the traffic problem recently hit home for her family. “Just about two weeks ago, my uncle got into an accident here,” Quinn said.

Records show there were accidents at the intersection between January and November 2015. No injuries or fatalities resulted from the accidents – so far, neighbors said.

“It’s just a matter of time before something really horrible is going to happen here,” Prighetti said.

Van Bramer said he has pleaded with DOT officials for years, to install required safety measures at the site. COT offiials say they have studied the intersection, that it was safe and that some of our suggestions are not practical, Van Bramer said.

“Do they want someone to be seriously injured or to die here before they do something to fix this?” a passerby said. “Every time you step off the sidewalk here, you’re putting your life in the hands of a maniac in speeding car,” the young woman said.

Van Bramer said the intersection requires installation of “at the minimum,” three-way stop signs. “We also suggest a traffic light, and there are few, if any markings on the street,” he said.

A DOT spokesperson told the Gazette an agency study sowed the intersection “does not meet necessary criteria for ‘All-Way’ stop signs. We will continue to study conditions and are exploring other measures to increase pedestrian safety at the site,” the spokesperson said.

DOT officials are considering the feasibility of installing “Speed Bumps” or “Speed Humps” along 29th Street, from Bridge Plaza North to 39th Avenue, the spokesperson said. “It’s just one of several options that we are considering.”

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