After one fatality and numerous car crashes at the intersection of Cooper Avenue and 61st Street in Glendale, Councilman Robert Holden and residents are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to “fix this situation immediately.”
The stop sign on the southwest corner of Cooper Avenue is obstructed by trees and parked cars, causing low visibility which creates a dangerous situation for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Holden wrote a heated letter to the DOT last week, saying that he is “appalled that DOT would leave the intersection in this condition.”
“The stop sign, which itself took a long time to get, was placed where it’s obviously obscured by a tree limb,” Holden said. “Yet DOT either didn’t notice or didn’t care enough to do anything about it right away. Either way, it’s not acceptable. They should have realized the dangerous situation and had the white lines expedited, had the branch removed, placed additional signage —anything that would help.”
On Tuesday, May 24, a crosswalk was painted on both 61st Street and 60th Street, which residents have said already slowed drivers down.
“I thank Mayor Adams for jumping on this and getting this dangerous situation corrected so quickly,” Holden said.
Despite this action, Holden still wants to see more done to make the streets in his district safer. Christina Sovereign, a resident in the area, said that her neighborhood is plagued with aggressive drivers and a lack of street safety measures.
“The mentality of drivers has gotten to be even more aggressive and impatient,” Sovereign said. “The speeding has gotten to be out of control. Pedestrians are not given much priority.”
Glendale has seen a lot of horrific accidents in recent months. In March, a 16-year-old girl died from severe head trauma after a crash on Cooper Avenue. A month earlier, one man was run over by two cars in a matter of seconds at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Cooper Avenue.
“It’s a problem all over the city,” Holden said. “The DOT in Queens is very unresponsive to requests from the community and from my office. I am increasingly frustrated that it falls to me and my office to do DOT’s job.”
DOT disputes Holden’s claim that the agency’s responsibilities fall to his office.
“We were aware of this issue and addressed it by placing markings to help increase visibility,” said DOT spokesperson Tomas Garita. “Traffic safety is the DOT’s top priority and our crews work every day to address any damages or obstructions made to city road signs as soon as we are made aware.”
Though DOT denies Holden’s credit for the new safety measures, Sovereign, who spearheaded the grassroots effort to advocate for safer streets, said she feels DOT wouldn’t have listened without Holden’s intervention.
“You can’t rely on DOT,” Sovereign said. “I know they’re totally inundated, but the normal citizen doesn’t know to go to an [local elected].”
Holden said that he and DOT toured the intersection last year, yet nothing was done to alleviate the situation, and in that time there were two serious injuries and one fatality.
Before the crosswalks were installed, another resident in the area even went far enough as to tie balloons to the stop sign to help drivers notice it. Holden also addressed this issue himself by requesting that NYPD Vision Zero, a street safety division, enforce traffic violations at the troubled intersection before DOT took any action.
“My taxpaying constituents deserve better from your agency,” Holden said in the letter to DOT.