2006-01-27 / Front Page

DOT Crawls To Shore Front Pkwy. Verdict

It has been six months since a deadly drag-racing accident on Shore Front Parkway triggered a study to see if a 20-block stretch of the roadway – devoid of control devices – needs at least one traffic light, but the Department of Transportation has not made a decision yet.

A 22-year-old man died behind the wheel of a crumpled Ford Mustang in the July 19, 2005 drag race disaster, and his alleged competitor faces criminal charges. Since then, a 12-year-old boy pedaling a bicycle was killed by an SUV.

Community leaders last November held two well-attended rallies calling for traffic lights in the open stretch that spans from Beach 74 to Beach 91 Streets. At the same time, DOT put a traffic monitoring device on Shore Front Parkway and Beach 84 Street, near St. Rose of Lima. The device, which uses a hose to register passing cars, had to be readjusted after locals pointed out that the hose covered only one of the westbound lanes and criticized the agency for monitoring when vehicle and pedestrian traffic is likely to be far lower than it is during warm months.

Community Board District Manager Jonathan Gaska said he has phoned DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Constance Moran almost every week since November, 2005 and has been told that a decision is coming soon. But there’s been no verdict.

Troubled by the delay, community board members contacted DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. “Community Board #14, at its December 2005 board meeting, voted to send you a letter stating our concern regarding the request for the installation of traffic lights or some other traffic devices along Shore Front Parkway to provide a safer environment for our residents,” Gaska wrote in a letter dated December 23. There has been no response.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr., Democratic District Leader Lew Simon and Edward Williams, president of the Far Rockaway chapter of the NAACP have all made separate requests for traffic lights.

The Wave contacted the DOT’s public information office twice for this story. Our inquiry was logged both times, but a press officer never provided a response.

While Gaska is eagerly awaiting a decision, which he said he hopes is in favor of at least one traffic light, he remains patient. “You want them to do this right and make the correct decision,” he said referring to the DOT’s collection of the traffic data and its interpretation of whether it meets Federal guidelines that govern traffic signals.

“But for those who are waiting,” Gaska added, “it should have happened a long time ago.”

Brian Magoolaghan

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