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Local News March 7, 2013  RSS feed

RIGHTFUL END TO WRONG WAY WOES

Say Device Made L.I.C. Block Safer
by Nicholas Biondo and Robert Pozarycki


City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer joined local residents and activists at the corner of Borden Avenue and 39th Street in Long Island City last Friday, Mar. 1, to praise the DOT for installing a safety device preventing drivers from backing down a residential street. 
(photo: Nicholas Biondo) City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer joined local residents and activists at the corner of Borden Avenue and 39th Street in Long Island City last Friday, Mar. 1, to praise the DOT for installing a safety device preventing drivers from backing down a residential street. (photo: Nicholas Biondo) Civic leaders gathered at a Long Island City intersection last Friday morning, Mar. 1, to celebrate the success of temporary device installed by the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to prevent vehicles from illegally traveling in reverse down a one-way street off the Long Island Expressway service road.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and other community activists came to the corner of Borden Avenue and 39th Street in the Blissville section of Long Island City on Aug. 24, 2012 to demand that the DOT install a traffic control mechanism after vehicles—whose drivers were seeking to avoid congestion on the westbound service road of the expressway— repeatedly traveled in re- verse and turned down the wrong way of the residential 39th Street.

More than six months later, Van Bramer along with Community Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley and 39th Street residents returned to the same spot last Friday to praise the DOT for installing last fall temporary bollards. At the same time, however, they called for a more permanent solution to prevent illegally turning vehicles from returning to the block.

According to Van Bramer, the flexible bollards on what is called a “quick curb”—which spring back upright after being knocked down— “has dramatically reduced the number of very serious and illegal movements by cars and trucks” from Borden Avenue westbound onto 39th Street.

The problem was initially brought to his attention last summer by an area resident, who had shown him a video of illegally turning vehicles.

“Behind us is the LIE, but in front of us is a residential street where people live, where people have children,”

Van Bramer said. “When traffic bottles up, we have too many instances where cars back up and make a right turn down the street, going in the wrong way. We needed to come up with a way to make sure cars didn’t do it. This was done fairly quickly in response to our calls.”

“This has been something that’s long been a concern for the community,” Conley added. “We’re happy with the first step we’ve taken. As you can see from the backdrop, this [traffic] is here everyday. People are always finding ways to get around this traffic. To go backward down the street created a very unsafe condition.”

Also joining Van Bramer and Conley in applauding the DOT for its work were Steven Grande Jr. of 39th Street and another local resident, San Vargas, who also represents Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

Since the flexible bollards were installed at the intersection last summer, the number of illegally turning vehicles on 39th Street has been significantly reduced, according to the lawmaker. But he and others in attendance stressed that the DOT must find a more permanent solution.

Delilah Hall, the DOT’s deputy borough commissioner assigned to the agency’s Queens office, indicated that it would do just that.

“The DOT was very glad this situation was brought to our attention over the summer, and we were able to act quickly and install the quick curb,” Hall said. “In the longer term, we’ll look to see what could be done. We have more permanent tools.”

Asked what one of those permanent devices might be, Hall replied that it would likely result in the installation of a concrete barrier.

Van Bramer elaborated on an idea discussed previously between himself and Conley: extending the sidewalk and the traffic island at the intersection “that would make it extremely and abundantly clear to drivers to stay off the street.”

“The more bottled up [Borden Avenue] gets, the more people do stupid and dangerous things,” Van Bramer added. “There is a barrier here, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be tempted to do reckless things. Creating a more permanent barrier will reduce that temptation.”