By Joe Anuta
Fresh Meadows leaders are pressuring the city to put the brakes on a favorite shortcut for drivers cutting through the residential neighborhood.
Impatient motorists traveling along Union Turnpike often zip north to 75th Avenue instead, according to City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), where they can speed along largely unencumbered by any city-made obstacles.
“It’s a straight run with no stop signs, no speed bumps and no traffic controls,” he said, speaking at the corner of 75th Avenue and 172nd Street alongside other neighborhood leaders.
Mary Scheer, principal of Holy Family School near the intersection in question, said the speeding cars pose a danger for students and pedestrians. Motorists have honked their horns at a crossing guard who stopped traffic for children crossing the road, while others have taken to the two-lane road as if it were a highway.
“I’ve seen cars passing each other,” she said.
Drivers take the avenue between 164th and 188th streets, and according to state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), who lives blocks from the intersection, they often lose control and hop the curb onto the sidewalk. The lawmaker herself witnessed a careening motorist go off the road last week.
“It’s not the first time I’ve seen that,” she said.
In 2012, there were 14 vehicle passengers injured on the stretch of road, according to Transportation Alternatives.
Gennaro would ideally like to see a four-way stop installed at the intersection, but the city Department of Transportation dashed those hopes earlier this spring.
City engineers conducted a traffic control study that showed the crossroads were not eligible for an all-way stop according to federal criteria, the DOT said.
Gennaro said he would reapply to have the area tested again after a grace period expires, but added that stop signs would not necessarily slow down traffic along the entire length of 75th Avenue.
Speed humps, speed limit signs and traffic enforcement are all more effective ways of slowing motorists, according to the DOT. Whereas traffic lights, for example, can actually cause drivers to speed up.
Gennaro requested that DOT conduct a study to install speed humps along the thoroughfare, which the department is currently looking into, a spokesman said.
“I can’t wave a magic wand and make it happen … it’s up to the traffic engineers at DOT,” he said.
The lawmaker has requested a stop sign at the intersection three times since February, 2011, his office said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.