By Mark Hallum
A new traffic signal at 47th Avenue and 42nd Street in Sunnyside had been in the works for over three years, ever since a new school, PS 343, was built near the northeast corner of the intersection.
Now students heading to Noonan Playground, just south of 47th Avenue, will have an extra buffer against oncoming traffic when heading from the school to the park, according to school staff and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
PS 343 Principal Brooke Barr, Van Bramer and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) held a news conference Sept. 6 recognizing the city Dept. of Transportation for installing the traffic light ahead of the new school year.
“One of the things that we need to teach here at the Children’s Lab School, is teach children about government and how it works. This is such a beautiful example of the city and state government working together on behalf of all the children,” Barr said.
But the light is not the only traffic safety initiative around schools on the agenda for elected officials, with legislation for speed cameras being passed at the city level after the same bill failed to go to the floor in the state Senate.
“There are few dangers as great in a busy city like ours as traffic around our schools. We’ve had way too many tragedies and we’ve been fighting really hard to make sure that the speed cameras around our schools are in place,” Gianaris said. “[Students and families] can come and go to school, their local park, their local library without having to worry about getting run over by a car while they’re doing it.”
After the bill to renew the speed camera program passed the Democratic state Assembly, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) decided against bring the law which has been renewed year after year to the floor and incited outcry throughout the city.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately issued an executive order allowing the city to pass the bill on its own, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed.
“For over four years, I have advocated with teachers, students and families for the installation of a traffic signal outside of PS 343. There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and it’s about time that these lights were activated to make this school zone safer,” Van Bramer said. “The new traffic signal will undeniably ease the fears of everyone who crosses that busy intersection to and from PS 343, Noonan Playground and the multiple apartment buildings in its vicinity. I am thankful to the Department of Transportation for finally heeding our pleas.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall