After string of fatal accidents, Woodside intersection gets new traffic sign

Max Parrott/QNS

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer could barely keep his voice from being drowned out by the shrieks of children during recess on Friday as he thanked the DOT for installing a new all-way stop sign at a treacherous Woodside intersection.

During his speech, a group of toddlers walked through the crosswalk, prompting him to remark how “impossibly adorable” they were.

The intersection of 57th Street and Woodside Avenue, which sits adjacent to the St. Sebastian Catholica Academy playground, has been the site of two fatal car accidents over the past year. Van Bramer joined with Assemblyman Brian Barnwell and representatives of Community Board 2 (CB2), the Department of Transportation and the school to unveil a new traffic sign to address the safety concerns.

The ceremony resulted from a campaign spearheaded by CB2 member Dorothy Morehead, whose granddaughter attends St. Sebastian’s. Morehead collected 400 petition signatures after the fatal accident in October to stir the DOT into action.

“This is the easiest petition I’ve ever participated in. People were waving me over to sign it,” Morehead said.

Christa Wittekind, a 82-year-old grandmother, was pushing her shopping cart across the intersection last February, when an SUV fatally struck her, hurling her down the street, according to Jim Condes who lives above the intersection.

“It was a devastating experience. Unfortunately many of the children were here at the time of the accident,” said CB2 Chair Denise Keehan-Smith.

Nine months later, an 83-year-old woman was also fatally struck by a car in the same intersection. The community board members said that they were especially concerned about the large number of children who cross the intersection to get to and from several nearby schools.

“It’s common sense. It’s going to save lives. Unfortunately it took a tragedy for this to get pushed along. But that’s why we’re here to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Barnwell.

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