By Karen Frantz
The city Department of Transportation threw its support behind calls for a speed camera at a dangerous intersection near PS 206 in Rego Park, but said it is waiting for the state to pass a law authorizing the cameras before it can move forward.
“The proposed speed camera program would significantly enhance safety at school locations throughout the city,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a letter to state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who is advocating for making the intersection safer and is the first Senate sponsor of legislation that would permit the speed cameras.
“We would appreciate your help moving the legislation along,” Sadik-Khan added. “When authorization is granted, we would be happy to consider your request to install a speed camera at this location.”
Residents have long complained that the intersection at Horace Harding Expressway and Junction Boulevard is dangerous and had pleaded for a crossing guard at the location, to no avail.
The intersection is two blocks away from PS 206, at 61-02 98th St.
To address the issue, Peralta recently suggested the city install speed cameras at the location in lieu of a crossing guard.
Sadik-Khan said a speed camera program would significantly enhance safety at school locations not just at PS 206 but throughout the city. She pointed out that a person struck by a car going 40 mph is more than three times as likely to die than a person hit by a car going 30 mph.
“Speeding vehicles pose [a] tremendous danger to other motorists and pedestrians, especially schoolchildren,” she said, saying she agreed with Peralta’s argument that cameras would act as a deterrent to speeding cars.
Meanwhile, she said the DOT is considering allowing more time for pedestrians to cross the street before the light turns green for motorists.
She said the department had considered installing a flashing beacon warning drivers to slow down at the intersection, but could not because the street has more than one passing lane and there is no school entrance on the block.
Peralta said adding more time for pedestrians to cross the street would be helpful and that he hopes DOT can put that into place soon.
“In the interim, I’m going to keep pushing in the Senate to allow the city to start installing speed cameras,” he said.
But, he added, “That all said, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s no substitute for a crossing guard to ensure the safety of school children at a dangerous intersection like this one.”
The issue of speed cameras has recently received much attention after the Senate failed to include a proposal to authorize the cameras in its recently passed budget. Mayor Michael Bloomberg raged against the Senate for not passing the measure.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.