The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) announced the completion of its $11.8 million dollar “Safe Routes to Schools” project, which included upgrades to roads around P.S. 239 Police Officer Ramon Suarez School.
The changes for the Ridgewood public school, located on 1715 Weirfield St., took about two years to complete.
The upgrades near P.S. 239 include: utility work on Myrtle Avenue and Cypress Avenue; installation of new catch basins and manhole at various locations; improvement of the drainage system; installation of a 12-inch water main; installation of curb extensions, sidewalks and pedestrian ramps; installation of a bus pad on Myrtle Avenue; and reconstruction of Carl Clemens Park Triangle.
The DOT’s “Safe Routes to Schools” conducted upgrades along Jamaica Avenue between 125th Street and 127th Street and intersections. The project was part of an initiative to improve street and pedestrian safety with traffic calming measures that would provide safer travel for parents, children and all community residents who use the corridors along and nearby seven schools in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
“The DDC would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the project communities, especially the Community Board 3, 4, 5, 9, 10 for Queens, CB 17-Brooklyn and CB 2-Staten Island, as well as, the elected officials for their patience, understanding and support of the project,” the DDC stated in a newsletter.
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said safety measures are important now more than ever.
“In most cases, whatever can be done to make conditions safer for pedestrians, especially children and the elderly is important,” Giordano told QNS. “I see too many situations where drivers are speeding and do not give pedestrians the right-of-way. And in large measure, that’s why the city administration and DOT are doing these safe routes to school projects, because conditions are getting more dangerous for pedestrians.”
But according to Giordano, the project had one outstanding issue: a part of the sidewalk on Weirfield Street and Myrtle Avenue was “bumped out” on the wrong side.
Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) in Ridgewood, explained that the DOT “bumped out” the sidewalk on the southeast side of the street instead of the west like the CB and BID initially suggested.
“Some merchants are telling me people make the illegal left,” Renz said. “I don’t know if there’s a way to put a camera to monitor for a week or so to see how many people are making the illegal turn, but even if less people make the left turn, there’s still the issue of the right.”
The DOT addressed their concerns in a statement to QNS.
“The intersection of Weirfield Street and Myrtle Avenue has a historic left turn ban onto westbound Myrtle Avenue. DOT revised the roadway geometry to provide better sight lines for pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and to slow down turning vehicles,” the DOT stated. “Additionally, the new curb extension installed at the southeast corner of this intersection helps narrow the intersection and shorten the crossing distances for students, shoppers and area residents.”