ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND BENJAMIN FANG
As the Dutch Kills neighborhood in Long Island City continues to grow, local politicians and residents are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve traffic safety.
“The city must ensure that its priority remains the safety of neighborhood residents,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “We are trying to be proactive on this side of the plaza and make sure that the residents and people who are staying in hotels here are safe as they walk the streets and visit all the new businesses.”
According to Gianaris and Dominic Stiller, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, there have been six to seven car crashes and accidents over the past several months at intersections in the neighborhood from 38th Avenue and 40th Avenue to 21st Street and 30th Street.
Through a petition, residents are asking the DOT for curb extensions, speed bumps, more four-way stop signs, new stop signs and enforcement of existing traffic laws to reduce speeding and unsafe driving as well as enhance pedestrian safety.
“This is a topic where lives can be saved,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We don’t want to wait until someone dies here before the Department of Transportation takes all of these really good suggestions.”
A DOT spokesperson said safety is department’s first priority. Nicholas Mosquera added the DOT has met with Gianaris to discuss safety enhancements at 39th Avenue and 29th Street, an area which the agency is reevaluating for extra stop signs and marking upgrades. The DOT is also inspecting the Queensboro Plaza area to figure out if there are any additional methods needed to increase safety.
The DOT has also launched an outreach initiative in the area and positioned street safety managers to help pedestrians and bicyclists near Dutch Kills Park.
“This initiative is part of a citywide campaign to educate and promote shared responsibility for everyone using the streets,” said Mosquera said.