Sunnyside students rally for increased traffic safety measures

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer

Parents and first-graders from P.S. 343 in Sunnyside are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the traffic conditions at a dangerous intersection near the school.

The intersection at 42nd Street and 47th Avenue, which is the location of the school, a playground and apartments that house families and seniors, has long been a problem area. For more than three years, parents and local leaders have repeatedly asked the DOT to install a traffic signal.

Parents, first-graders from P.S. 343’s Civics Unit and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered at the intersection on Monday to voice their concerns and marched to a nearby mailbox to mail letters to the city agency.

“Every day that we don’t have a traffic light at this intersection we are asking families to cross in danger,” Van Bramer said. “The Department of Transportation has the responsibility of protecting our children and all local residents who cross this street every day. The agency cannot simply wait for a tragedy to occur before making the necessary improvements we need to make this street safer.”

Van Bramer cited the NYPD’s annual Motor Vehicle Collision Report statistics to highlight the dangerous conditions of the intersection, noting that between January 2014 and August 2015 there were six collisions in the area that involved 12 people.

Students from the school’s Civics Unit, where 90 first-graders are learning about civic engagement, surveyed Sunnyside and identified areas in the neighborhood that were troublesome. The students brainstormed solutions to the traffic problem and decided on the letter-writing project.

“I am very proud of our first-grade students and their letter-writing campaign,” P.S. 343 Principal Brooke Barr said in a statement. “They are using what they have learned in class about good citizenship to make a real difference in their community. With the support of Council member Van Bramer and Community Board 2, our teachers, students and families are working together to make our neighborhood a safer place for all.”

Though the city agency previously denied the need for additional safety measures, a spokesperson for the DOT said they have agreed to research the area to judge if additional safety enhancements are necessary.

“We demand a stoplight on the corner of 42nd Street and 47th Avenue here in Sunnyside,” said first-grader Virginia Wallace. “You can get killed at that corner. It’s very dangerous. We saw someone who had to run across the street because a car was crossing. Don’t you want to keep us safe?”

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