Electeds want DOT to put traffic signal at Flushing intersection

By Madina Toure

Elected officials, community leaders and traffic safety advocates are calling on the city Department of Transportation to re-explore ways to reduce accidents at the intersection of Blossom Avenue and Main Street in Flushing.

At a news conference held Monday morning at the intersection near the Public Health Solutions’ WIC Center, state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) said she wrote a letter to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia in October 2015 asking for traffic calming measures to be installed at the intersection. These measures are designed to slow down or reduce traffic and increase safety for pedestrians.

In the letter, Rozic referred to an accident that took place that month in which a young couple was struck as they were trying to cross the street, She also cited the high volume of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area.

She said the DOT told her that although the intersection falls into a designation of traffic space in which the area is too busy for a stop sign, it is not busy enough for a traffic signal.

“That is not an appropriate response,” Rozic said. “That is not the response that community members in Flushing deserve, so we’re here again to call on the city Department of Transportation to revisit the study and say enough is enough.”

A DOT spokesman said the agency’s fall 2015 study of the intersection found that it did not meet the federal criteria for a traffic signal.

He said the agency is currently taking another look at the location to see what potential safety measures can be implemented.

The spokesman also said that from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2014, the intersection saw a total of four motor vehicle occupant injuries.

No pedestrian injuries, severe injuries or fatalities were reported at the location during that time, the spokesman said.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said that that along Main Street, there were 15 injuries and one death last year.

During the first two months of 2016, there were four injuries between Maple and Blossom avenues and at the intersection in question, there have been three injuries since October 2015, Stavisky said.

“It is unfortunate that we have to come out and not demonstrate but have a press conference,” Stavisky said. “The city should be doing this voluntarily and willingly.”

Scott Sieber, spokesman for City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), said the DOT needs to take the community’s concerns into consideration.

“The DOT has to come out,” Sieber said. “They have to do their analysis. It has to be done scientifically, but we think that they also need to listen to the community.”

The intersection is just a block away from the northeast corner of Cherry Avenue and Main Street, where 3-year-old Allison Liao was hit by a driver in October 2013 while crossing at the intersection with her grandmother. The intersection has since been renamed “Allison Hope Liao Way.”

“We’re really baffled by why just a few feet away, DOT can’t look at the street and do some traffic calming measures,” Allison’s mother, Amy Tam-Liao, a founding member of Families for Safe Streets, said. Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association; Susan Lacerte, executive director of Queens Botanical Garden; and Arielle Burlett, Neighborhood WIC Program Manager at Public Health Solutions, thanked the elected officials for their work and asked the DOT to consider the community’s needs.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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