By Bill Parry
Community leaders and students from PS/IS 78 joined City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) last Friday in calling for the city Department of Transportation to erect a stop sign at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. During the rally, protesters raised a homemade “People’s Stop Sign” to bring attention to needed traffic safety improvements that Van Bramer has been calling for at the intersection since 2012.
“We’ve been advocating for a stop sign at this intersection for four years. It’s time for the DOT to step up and protect our children from speeding cars and reckless drivers,” said Van Bramer, the Council’s majority leader. “Today, we’ve taken matters into our own hands by installing the People’s Stop Sign. I hope DOT hears our message loud and clear and commits to protecting our children now before it’s too late.”
Nearly 600 students attend PS/IS 78, located on the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, and dozens of families frequent the NY Kids Club, a preschool across the street. Cars, taxis and trucks speed down 46th Avenue towards Center Boulevard, endangering residents, including seniors and children.
“This is a scary intersection and there’s absolutely no reason why there shouldn’t be a stop sign,” said Jen Theien, president of the Gantry Parents Association. “There are infants and toddlers from the New York Kids Club, and students from second to eighth grade at PS/IS 78 across the street. This has been a concern for many people in this community, and we should take care of the situation now before something really bad happens.”
Van Bramer’s office first requested a four-way stop sign at this intersection in May 2012, in response to constituent complaints. The DOT responded that the intersection did not meet the criteria for a stop sign. Van Bramer requested traffic calming measures again in 2013 and 2014. DOT has yet to accommodate the community’s request for traffic safety improvements.
A DOT spokesman said the agency studied the area for additional stop controls several times in recent years in response to community requests. “This location does not meet the criteria for an all-the-way stop,” he said. “DOT is, however, already in the process of looking into other enhancements in this area.”
Meanwhile, the Hunters Point residential boom continues unabated. Nearly 6,450 housing units have been added in the last decade with another 4,350 units under construction or planned for the neighborhood, according to the LIC Partnership.
“This prolonged, much-needed stop sign will ensure that each child can make it to and from school safely,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Enhancements, such as these, demonstrate our commitment to making investments in our local infrastructure.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr