By Chris Engelhardt
Elected officials and residents gathered in Dutch Kills in Long Island City last week to demand that the city Department of Transportation take immediate action in addressing unsafe traffic conditions in the neighborhood.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined residents at a rally at the intersection of 39th Avenue and 29th Street July 17 to call on the DOT to address the dangerous conditions, citing a need for traffic control infrastructure and for enforcement of existing traffic laws. According to Gianaris, residents have contacted his office and reported numerous car accidents in recent weeks, none of which have resulted in serious injury. Action is also necessary to reduce speeding among drivers who pass through the neighborhood to and from the nearby Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge, officials said.
But if measures are not taken soon to address the quality-of-life issue, officials warned, serious injuries will eventually occur.
“It is imperative that we alleviate issues with traffic congestion in Dutch Kills and implement additional safety measures for the residents and families of the neighborhood,” Van Bramer said, urging the DOT “to develop solutions that will ensure the safety of the thousands of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists who travel within the neighborhood every single day.”
In a letter to the DOT dated July 17, Gianaris said the Dutch Kills area needs stop signs, speed bumps and other traffic safety improvements to ensure that drivers are not only safe, but also obey the rules of the road.
“As this area continues to grow more residential, it is important that infrastructure designed to control traffic in the area keeps up with the needs of the neighborhood,” he said.
Residents also began circulating a traffic calming and pedestrian safety petition throughout the community last week that calls for the DOT to keep neighborhood streets safe and make specific changes in the community.
They include adding curb extensions on 38th and 39th avenues on the busy corners of 28th, 29th and 30th streets, adding new stop signs at the corner of 29th Street and 41st Avenue and adding a speed bump on 28th Street in front of the Growing Up Green Charter School.
A spokesman for Gianaris said the petition will eventually be sent to the DOT.
A DOT spokesman said Tuesday that the department met with Gianaris after receiving his letter and discussed safety enhancements at 39th Avenue and 29th Street, which the agency is re-evaluating for additional stop signs and marking upgrades.
“Safety is the first priority,” he said, adding the DOT stationed “street safety managers” last week to help guide pedestrians and bicyclists near Dutch Kills Park.
The agency is also examining the Queensboro Plaza area for additional ways to enhance safety for street users, he said.
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.