By Gina Martinez
After nine car accidents this year alone, a Whitestone intersection has finally received an all-way stop sign.
Residents demanded traffic safety measures at the Murray Street and 17th Road intersection following an April 23 accident that reignited the issue among neighbors and the We Love Whitestone Civic Association. Last Friday, City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) announced that the city Department of Transportation approved an all-way stop sign for the intersection.
Vallone said he reached out to the DOT and NYPD to revisit this intersection, which had previously been denied requests for an all-way stop sign. The NYPD provided the DOT with recent crash data, which spurred the city agency to finally approve the all-way stop sign, according to Vallone.
Alfredo Centola, president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, said the community was tired of the DOT not taking the issue seriously. Centola highlighted two of the nine accidents at the intersection this year; one involving a bicyclist being hit and thrown from his bike, and another incident in which an 80-year-old pedestrian was hit with so much force that his body was thrown more than 25 feet.
Centola said the community contacted the DOT numerous times about safety at this corner and pushed the need for a four-way stop sign, a traffic light, or speed bumps to ensure that motorists slowed down before approaching the intersection.
Residents were initially told the intersection did not warrant action. Centola said that with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s emphasis on street safety and Vision Zero campaign, the Whitestone community would not rest until something was done to mitigate the situation at the corner before they suffered a death at the location.
Vallone called the traffic safety measure a victory for Whitestone and is now working with the city DOT to address other intersections with high traffic and low visibility to secure safety changes. Vallone said the intersections of 12th Road, 12th Avenue and 150th Street located near local schools are a primary concern due to congestion at dismissal times and a limited line of sight for motorists. The intersection of 3rd Avenue and Whitestone Expressway Service Road will also be revisited, Vallone said.
Despite the recent installation of enhanced crosswalks and narrowed roads, residents still say there are not enough safe crossings at Francis Lewis Park due to the lack of any all-way stop signs when entering or leaving the park.
“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.
Centola said the group was pleasantly surprised the DOT responded positively to this request. He thanked the DOT and NYPD for their diligence and Vallone for staying on top of the DOT to help make the intersection safer for the community.
“Today is a big win for We Love Whitestone and our community,” Centola said. “Today is a testament to not taking no for an answer and what our community can accomplish when we work together with our local elected representatives and police precinct.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart