By Steven Goodstein
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has announced a new traffic signal for the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Little Neck to increase the safety and access for vehicles when they are entering or exiting the nature center’s parking lot.
The signal will assist both eastbound traffic for exiting vehicles and westbound traffic for vehicles entering or exiting APEC at 228-06 Northern Blvd. A left-turn bay will also be included in the implementation, which will further assist westbound traffic.
Westbound traffic now has to cross an entire boulevard strip to enter or exit APEC’s parking lot with no signal.
According to a DOT spokesman, the city Department of Transportation conducted a study for APEC’s traffic in response to community safety concerns, which resulted in the approval of the traffic signal. The DOT concluded that the area was in need of additional traffic controls at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and APEC.
“The community has requested this for years and I’m happy that the DOT heard our call,” said Vallone, who first requested the signal three years ago. “Having a traffic light at this intersection will go a long way towards improving the safety of the students, parents and teachers that visit APEC each year.”
Northeast Queens organizations that have also requested the traffic signal in the past include the Douglaston Local Development Corporation and the Auburndale Improvement Association.
“It’s very difficult for vehicles to enter and exit there,” state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said of APEC’s location. “Especially during rush hour, that entire portion of Northern Boulevard is backed up with traffic, which also contributes to the problem.”
“If it makes the traffic situation worse, we will have to reach out to DOT so they can make the appropriate changes,” Braunstein said. “Hopefully, the DOT will do its due diligence to make sure this traffic signal doesn’t exacerbate the problem.”
“We are very happy that the DOT has moved forward with this safety improvement – an improvement we have supported for years,” said Victor Dadras, vice president of the Douglaston Local Development Corporation. “We consider APEC a real asset to the community and the addition of a traffic signal to improve pedestrian safety is very welcome.”
The traffic signal is expected to be installed and operating by the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall, just before the start of the school year.
“This traffic signal will drastically improve the safety of children, students, adults and volunteers that visit or commute here on a regular basis,” said APEC executive director Irene Scheid.
APEC, which first opened in 1976, is a non-profit organization which provides students and adults with environmental and ecological education. The organization provides class visits and workshops for 50,000 children, over 23,000 students and 20,000 adults each year.
Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgood