2012-06-08 / Top Stories

Goldfeder: Scholars' Students Need Better Protection

Students cross the dangerous underpass between Beach 104 and Beach 105 Streets on the Rockaway Freeway. Students cross the dangerous underpass between Beach 104 and Beach 105 Streets on the Rockaway Freeway. In an effort to protect students at Scholars’ Academy and all the families and children of Rockaway, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is reaching out to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), asking them to study the unsafe roadway and explore the possibility of implementing a crosswalk and traffic light to curb hazardous crossings on the Rockaway Freeway between Beach 104 and Beach 105 Streets, parallel to the Scholars’ Academy.

“I have personally visited this intersection and I am concerned for the safety of the students. Rockaway Freeway is extraordinarily busy and dangerous, and a thorough review is needed to determine which important safety measures like crosswalks and traffic lights we desperately need,” Goldfeder said. “The NYC Department of Transportation needs to act now.”

In his letter to the NYC DOT, Assemblyman Goldfeder noted that crossing the Rockaway Freeway is often the only way for students at Scholars’ Academy to get to school in the morning or catch the bus or train after school ends. Cars constantly speed by, ignoring the speed-zone laws around the school.

To make matters worse, this part of the freeway is very narrow, and wide train columns often prevent drivers from noticing pedestrians, Goldfeder wrote.

The problem is exacerbated when snow strikes, because the Department of Sanittion piles up the snow under the freeway, making it even more difficult for students to cross safely, O’Connell said.

“Our records demonstrate proof that since early in July of 2005, the Scholars’ Academy Community has been persistently lobbying DOT Queens Commissioner McCarthy via letters, face to face meetings, and emails to address the dangerous traffic safety conditions under Rockaway Freeway faced by students and community members,” said Brain O’Connell, principal of Scholars’ Academy. “The sidewalk behind the school is too narrow, the pillars of the elevated train create blind-spots, and there is no traffic safety device or crosswalk at the intersection of B105 Street and Rockaway Freeway where children cross every day.”

Assemblyman Goldfeder recently received a petition with more than 800 signatures from both Scholars’ Academy students and their parents, advocating for increased safety measures on the Rockaway Freeway.

“Just this past Friday, I assisted a senior citizen in a wheelchair who was trying to navigate the lack of a curb cut and traffic safety devices at B105 Street and Rockaway Freeway. Putting up a few school zone signs is not enough,” Principal Brian O’Connell said. “Our government agencies need to step up and radically reconfigure the roadway from B106 Street to B101 Street under Rockaway Freeway so that the students from the Beach Channel High School Campus and Scholars’ Academy may cross Rockaway Freeway more safely to get to and from school.”

“Faculty, parents and students have been reaching out to the Department of Transportation for some time, and still nothing has been done,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “This is unacceptable. We have a responsibility to make Rockaway a safe community for everyone, and I will continue fighting to make sure our students can get to and from school without having to worry about speeding cars.”

At dismissal time earlier this week,, Goldfeder joined Scholars’ Academy Principal Brian O’Connell to direct students across the dangerous Rockaway Freeway underpass, which, in the blocks impacting the school, significantly lacks any traffic control,.Many of the students must cross the Freeway one block from the school in order to get to their bus.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder responded to the situation by urging the Department of Transportation to review the location and install traffic signals after concerned students and parents collected an 839 signature petition on the matter.

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