By Stephen Stirling
City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) appealed to the state last week to crack down on truck traffic infiltrating Fifth Avenue in Whitestone, but some residents on the street want traffic coming from the Whitestone Bridge eliminated entirely.
Fifth Avenue resident Ben Barton said he is hoping to organize residents to push the city to make the street a one-way road to put an end to all traffic coming from the busy bridge nearby.
“We're trying to keep the kids from getting killed over there,” Barton said. “We've got guys on the street who have been trying to get this done for 10 years. We can't get any cooperation from the Department of Transportation. We need to get something done.”
Last week Avella, flanked by members of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association and area residents, called on the city to enforce established trucking routes and crack down on violators barreling in their trucks down residential streets, such as Fifth Avenue.
“Residents are truly scared to let their children out to play,” said Pat Carpentiere, the GWTCA president. “Something needs to be done to address this situation as soon as possible.”
But Barton said this action would not go far enough. Residents on the street are hoping to get traffic coming off the Whitestone Bridge diverted to Third Avenue, which is wider and has less residential housing, according to Barton.
Barton said area elected officials have not gone far enough to ensure the safety of the residents and their children in the area.
“But when some child gets hit by a car, they're all going to be wringing their hands about it then,” he said.
Avella said he does not necessarily believe one-way traffic on Fifth Avenue will cure the neighborhood's traffic woes.
“If you talk about having one-way traffic on Fifth Avenue, then you're pushing the illegal truck traffic onto the next block. I don't know if that's the best solution,” he said.
Avella added that if the majority of residents on all blocks involved in the decision were to come to a consensus on such a proposal, however, he would fight for their interests.
“They have to get their act together first,” he said.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.