Some residents are arguing that an intersection near the Astoria waterfront needs a stop light, especially now that construction is booming in the area.
Khahondo Alkebularu, a construction worker and resident of Astoria Houses, said he’s been concerned about the dangerous conditions at the intersection of 27th Avenue and 4th Street for about five years. Alkebularu, who’s lived in Astoria since 1967, reached out to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2011 to tell them that a stop sign in that area is not enough.
“It’s dangerous,” he said. “we have the Goodwill there and we have people that’s elderly and we have the kids running back and forth across the street there…plus having all the construction that’s going to happen for the next five to seven years there.”
Hallets Point, the Durst Organization’s 2.4 million-square-foot development project is being constructed a few blocks away. Alma Realty’s Astoria Cove, a project that would bring 1,723 apartments to the Astoria waterfront, was also scheduled to be constructed on 26th Avenue but has been stalled due to financial issues.
The DOT monitored that area after Alkebularu filed a complaint but said that the area did not meet federal guidelines for the traffic control device. Vehicles must drive down a hill before reaching the stop sign and an MTA bus stop is located on the same block.
Alkebularu works on projects in the neighborhood and said on days where construction companies are pouring cement, trucks ride down that intersection 50 or 60 times within a 12-hour period.
Community Board 1 members who live in the area agreed that the intersection needs to be improved.
“I periodically go to a meeting about once a month at Goodwill and invariably where the stop sign is on that corner there’s a city bus parked there,” said board member Edward Babor. “That’s the wrong place because people coming down that hill cannot see that stop sign and they sail right through the intersection.”
Vanessa Jones-Hall, an Astoria Houses resident and board member, said a request has been put in to the DOT to conduct another traffic study at that intersection. Two people were recently hit by vehicles at that intersection when cars failed to yield at the stop sign, she said.
“Before we had a speed bump and the speed bump was a disaster,” she said. “Because of the construction going on in that area the buses are parked in the Goodwill section, [where] we do have a lot of blind residents there and residents from Astoria Houses that are wheelchair bound and are not given enough time to cross that street where vehicles as well as trucks are going around them. So something really needs to be done.”
A spokesperson for the DOT said a study was done in 2014 and the agency deemed the all-around stop signs were adequate for that intersection.
“DOT is aware of community concerns at this intersection,” the spokesperson said. “We previously studied this intersection in 2014 and determined that the existing all-way STOP control was the appropriate control for the intersection. We also have not received any recent requests to re-evaluate.”
District Manager Florence Koulouris said the community board would be reaching out to the DOT and will point out that intersection when she does a walk-around in the neighborhood to report troublesome spots to the agency.