Updated May 9, 12:30 p.m.
A planned day of outrage turned into “a day of relief” when the city finally installed a long sought safety improvement in Whitestone hours ahead of a scheduled press conference.
On the morning of May 4, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) established an all-way stop at 17th Road and Murray Street. Hours later, the intersection was to be the site of a press conference, organized by the We Love Whitestone Civic Association.
“Today turned out to be a day of relief. It’s a great start,” civic president Alfredo Centola said at the conference. “Seven o’clock this morning, DOT was here and they put the two new signs and added the triangle sign that said, ‘New.'”
Frustrated with a lack of action by the city and in the wake of another collision, the group decided to organize the press conference in late April as a way to bring more attention to the dangerous intersection.
On Nov. 23, the intersection was the site of a hit-and-run that left a 71-year-old pedestrian in critical condition. A 52-year-old Corona man, Carmine Minichino, is accused of hitting the pedestrian. Minichino allegedly had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, prosecutors later announced.
The conversation surrounding the intersection reignited again on April 23 when resident Joseph Angenbroich live-streamed the latest auto collision to the civic group’s Facebook page. The press conference was organized in the following days.
Locals said they’ve been asking for safety measures at the location for years. In recent months, Angenbroich took initiative, gathering evidence of collisions and close calls at the location from a security camera posted on his property.
Warning: Graphic imagery
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Living on this corner for so long you see a lot of things, unfortunately, when it comes to accidents … It’s a big win for Whitestone.”
Centola thanked DOT for putting the safety measure in place. He also commended the 109th Precinct, who sent the city agency intelligence reports about the intersection, and Councilman Paul Vallone’s office for advocating on the community’s behalf.
“Today’s a big win for the community,” Centola said. “This is going on for 20 years. We have letters and emails from DOT stating that they did studies and this block did not warrant any other stop signs, four-way stop signs, etc. Thank God that has changed.”
On May 9, DOT returned to the site to lay the appropriate white markings down on the street, according to Centola.
“Our office and community have been advocating for this all-way stop sign and this is a victory for Whitestone,” Councilman Paul Vallone said in a statement. “We’re hoping this decision leads to similar decisions in northeast Queens as we work with the DOT and our community leaders to address similarly concerning intersections.”
Vallone said he is working with DOT to secure safety changes at the intersections of 12th Road, 12th Avenue and 150th Street, as well as 3rd Avenue and Whitestone Expressway service road, where residents are also reporting dangerous conditions.