By Rebecca Henely
After years of unsuccessful attempts to get a crossing guard at the intersection of Horace Harding Expressway and Junction Boulevard, community members are asking for speed cameras, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said this week.
“We’re trying to prevent a tragedy here,” Peralta said.
The intersection — at the dividing line of Elmhurst, Corona and Rego Park — abuts government buildings and the Rego Center Mall and, to the community’s concern, is two blocks away from PS 206, at 61-02 98th St. in Rego Park.
Pat Martin is president of the LeFrak City Library, which is within walking distance of the intersection, at 98-30 57th Ave. in Corona. She said three years ago, the parents at PS 206 began demanding that a crossing guard be placed at the intersection, and the library heard of it at one of its open forums a year later, taking up the cause.
A petition collected numerous signatures as well as the support of elected officials, Community Board 4 and the 110th Precinct, which covers Elmhurst and southern Corona, but no crossing guard has been put into place.
“We just can’t figure that out,” she said. “Everyone is involved. Everyone agrees that that is a dangerous corner.”
She suggested the issue may be that the 112th Precinct, which includes Rego Park, covers the intersection. A crossing guard has been placed at the intersection of 99th Street and Horace Harding Expressway, but Martin said that intersection is not as dangerous and the guard could be moved.
In lieu of a guard being put into place, Peralta said in an interview he is pushing for speed cameras. While the cameras may not immediately slow the cars down, Peralta said the drivers would eventually learn of the speed camera and do so.
“You can’t get to them on a moral level? Maybe we’ll get to them on a financial level,” Peralta said.
To install cameras, the city needs the permission of the state Legislature, and lately the push on the Legislature has become more vigorous. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the city Department of Transportation have spoken out in support of more speed cameras. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) also introduced a recently passed Council resolution for the Legislature to allow a speed camera pilot program in the city.
Juan Martinez, general counsel for public transport advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said speeding kills more people than distracted driving on cell phones and DWIs combined. He said several places in Queens can use speed cameras, especially major thoroughfares which cannot have speed bumps installed like Northern Boulevard or the Horace Harding Expressway and Junction Boulevard intersection.
“Stoplights, stop signs are not the solution always,” Martinez said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.