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Traffic islands must go: CB7

Photo by Alex Robinson
By Alex Robinson

The construction of traffic islands on College Point Boulevard has created a number of traffic problems and an increase in accidents since it started, community leaders say.

The long rectangular curbs that serve as partitions for pedestrians trying to cross busy roads have caused headaches for drivers, said Community Board 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman.

“It’s a total traffic nightmare over there,” she said at a district service cabinet meeting last week.

When the traffic islands were first built in October, they lacked the proper signs and markings to warn drivers of their presence, Bitterman said.

“If you’re putting in a center island, put it in and put the proper signage and markings at one island and then move onto your second one,” she said about the project, which has been drawn out over the last four months.

A police source said accidents in the area with the new traffic islands skyrocketed by 400 percent after they were first put in.

The city Department of Design and Construction, the agency in charge of the traffic islands’ construction, installed yellow bollards and white plastic delineators around the partitions in the end of November so that drivers would see them.

A spokesman for DDC said the project is expected to be finished in the spring or as soon as the weather allows for the road to be paved and marked. The project’s contractors cannot pave the road while it has snow on it, he said. DDC believes the traffic islands will make the street safer for pedestrians and motorists.

City Department of Transportation officials said they were confident traffic problems would be alleviated once the project is complete.

Bitterman, however, was not convinced. The community board’s leadership has been against the traffic islands since they were first proposed. CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty and the community board’s Transportation Committee were both vehemently opposed to the construction of the islands because of traffic concerns.

“They’ve been creating all sorts of problems,” said Bitterman, who added she will be writing a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio to express her frustrations about the project. She said she has tried to schedule multiple meeting with the project’s contractors but they have never shown up.

“If they were all consistent or the same size, they would be fine, but they aren’t. You can be in the left lane and all of a sudden have a partial island in your lane where you’ve got to move over. College Point Boulevard is extremely crowded now,” she said. “I want to get them removed. I really, honestly want them removed.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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