By Mark Hallum
City Department of Transportation leaders and elected officials Monday celebrated the installation of a left turn signal at the corner of Corporal Kennedy and 26th Avenue and showcased the new technology, which will make the intersection safer and more efficient.
Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia showed off one of the small pressure sensors, which is placed under six inches of asphalt to detect when cars are waiting to turn northbound or southbound from 26th Avenue so as not to delay traffic for a light when no cars are turning at the intersection.
“This signal is now activated only when there are vehicles waiting in the left turn lane – if no one is waiting, the left turn phase is skipped,” Garcia said. “That cuts unnecessary delay for pedestrians and drivers making other movements, which not only enhances efficiency, but also safety, since people subject to excessive delay can drive unpredictably. We thank the local elected officials for their determination to make these improvements a reality.”
The agency is hoping to make more improvements to the intersection that will focus on pedestrian safety, considering the proximity of two senior centers on the northwest corner of the intersection. Elderly residents of Bay Terrace who frequent Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center and Scheuer House of Bayside, which services Holocaust survivors, often walk or take the bus to these centers.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) both celebrated the announcement that DOT would install the signal after their offices had received years of complaints about the unsafe and congested state of the intersection.
Avella said it has been a two-decade mission of his to get DOT agree to this improvement.
“After working for almost 20 years on this — well before I was in elected office — along with the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, I am very happy to know that the heavily trafficked and very busy intersection of 26th Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street will finally get a left turn signal that so many people have asked for,” Avella said. “The new on-demand technology is exactly what Queens needs and ensures the safety of pedestrians and motorists alike.”
The Bay Terrace intersection will be the first in the borough to receive the traffic sensor technology, which has a battery life of up to 10 years and costs around $400 for each device.
“The long-awaited left turn signal at 26th Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street is finally a reality. If you heard a unified cheer from the seniors in Bayside, it was a cry of victory,” said Vallone. “This was one of the most common requests we’ve received and while it may not seem big in the grand scheme of things, this was a long overdue victory for the neighborhood. Combined with the additional safety enhancements that DOT will be installing along the Corporal Kennedy and 23rd Avenue corridor, we have made great strides towards improving pedestrian and motorist safety in Bayside.”
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said when his organization was established in 1999, traffic conditions at the intersection were one of the first projects on their agenda. After repeated attempts and repeated rejections from DOT, the agency finally approved of the left turn signal.
“Finally, here we are,” Schreiber said. “And I think what this shows it that you should never give up — keep fighting. We have finally have a signal that’s going to make it safer for everybody.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall