Dangerous Driveway Causes Concern
Dangerous Driveway Causes Concern
By Howard Schwach
Now that the new Duane Reade building on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 116 Street nears completion, a number of local residents and officials have expressed concern over the traffic coming from the building's parking lot.
"We knew that this was going to be a problem, that the traffic light was in the wrong place for the store's driveway, and we told the Department of Transportation (DOT) about it in a letter last year," says Jonathon Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14. "The DOT told us that they would not do a traffic study for the area until the project was completed."
"The DOT seems to have the attitude that there has to be an accident before they will act," Gaska added. "We wanted to be proactive, but the DOT does not deal in that realm."
Keith Kalb, a spokesperson for the DOT, told The Wave after seeing a picture of the driveway, "there is certainly something wrong with the way the driveway is situated."
Kalb said that he had referred the question to the Department of Buildings, the agency responsible for approving curb cuts, except for those within 50 feet of an intersection.
"I don't know who is responsible for approving that curb cut," Kalb said. "I don't want to say anything prematurely, but there is definitely something wrong."
Sid Dinsay, a spokesperson for the Department of Buildings said that the agency did approve a forty-foot curb cut application from Duane Reade, but, after looking at a picture of the cut, is investigating whether or not what was poured matches their plans.
"They submitted a builder's pavement plan to us and a permit was issued. They also submitted a application for a forty foot curb cut and it was approved, but no permits were issued," Dinsay told The Wave on Wednesday. "There are some cases where curb cuts are permitted into crosswalks to allow for wheelchairs to maneuver, but we are looking at whether or not this cut is supposed to be at that specific location at all."
The recently built curb cut that has caused the discussion empties the Duane Reade parking lot into Beach Channel Drive without the benefit of a traffic light, which is approximately 12 feet east of the parking lot's entrance. In addition, that light is facing in the wrong direction for those coming from the new parking lot.
The arrow directing motorists to leave the lot is pointed directly towards the crosswalk that takes pedestrians from the north side of Beach Channel Drive to the south side of the major roadway.
"This is a major intersection," said local resident Steve Young, who was coming with his family from the Sunset Diner, right across the street from the new pharmacy. "Traffic on Beach Channel Drive with a green light is going to shoot through the light at the same time somebody coming from the drug store is going straight onto Beach 116 without a light being present. They are going to meet in a hurry and somebody is going to be hurt."
John Lepore, the president of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, who owns an insurance business just down the street from the new pharmacy, agrees.
"There is going to be a real problem there, and something needs to be done to fix it before somebody is badly hurt, Lepore said. "We sent letters to the community board and to the Department of Transportation about the issue, but nothing was ever done."
"The juxtaposition of the two major roads without a traffic light is a real problem."
Lepore, who was eating at the Sunset Diner during a phone interview with The Wave, said that he was looking right at the yellow arrow telling people to exit the parking lot right at the crosswalk. "That crosswalk is going to have to be moved, and so is the traffic light," he said.
Lepore suggests that four-way stop signs be posted at the intersection.
"That will anger lots of people," he said, "but it would slow up the traffic."
Calls to Duane Reade's corporate offices in Manhattan for a statement about the driveway controversy went unreturned at press time.