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Photo courtesy Jimmy Van Bramer
By Bill Parry

Frustrated by what they call “inaction” by the city Department of Transportation, dozens of Woodside residents rallied outside the Big Six Towers to draw attention to a dangerous intersection at 47th Avenue and 60th Street.

“We’ve tried to get the DOT to do something about this for 10 years,” said David Becker, general manager at the Big Six. “We need a stop sign here before we have another fatality from the Boulevard of Death.”

When traffic on Queens Boulevard backs up, motorists take a shortcut down 47th Avenue, often at a high rate of speed. At the intersection with 60th Street there are children that go to a nursery school and plenty of senior citizens from the Big Six.

“It’s not like we’re asking them to spend a million bucks, all it takes is common sense,” said resident Jerry LoMonte. “I’ve been living here since it opened in 1963. We’ve seen it all and it’s only gotten worse when they changed the traffic pattern on Queens Boulevard.”

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined the protest with a makeshift stop sign affixed to a coat rack.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” Van Bramer said. “The time to act is now. Without a stop sign at this heavily trafficked intersection or speed bumps along this street, the chances of an accident happening will continue to escalate.”

The DOT disagrees with Van Bramer and his band of protesters.

“The agency’s recent study of this location last winter found that it did not meet the federal guidelines for additional stop signs,” said DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera.

He explained that the agency would consider adding a temporary speed bump at the location to remind drivers to adhere to the speed limit.

Meanwhile, Van Bramer was more successful with another street-calming effort in Woodside and Sunnyside. Two Neighborhood Slow Zones will be installed by the DOT next year with high-visibility blue gateway signs limiting speed to 20 mph as well as speed bumps and road stenciling to make motorists aware that they are in a reduced speed area. The zones will be in Sunnyside Gardens and the area south of Queens Boulevard.

Van Bramer noted that the Neighborhood Slow Zones have a proven track record throughout the city.

“I believe it is vital to use every tool we have to protect the lives of residents on our city’s streets,” he said.

Reach Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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