LONG ISLAND CITY — After months of complaining to the Department of Transportation about what they say is a hazardous and increasingly busy intersection in a booming residential area, dozens of Hunters Point residents took matters into their own hands — putting up their own cardboard stop sign there instead.
Residents say the intersection of 5th Street and 47th Avenue, near an elementary school and the site of two others that are set to be built, has become dangerous, due to rapid development in the area over the past few years.
“I saw many fender benders here in the last couple of months,” said Stephanie Bull, 35, a mother of a 1½-year-old boy, who has lived in the neighborhood for 4 years. “I’m afraid to walk here with my son and dog.”
Deana Ahn, 36, came to the protest Friday — during which protesters erected a stop sign that they made along with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office — with her husband Yoo-Shin Lee and two toddlers, Zac and Evan.
“People just zoom by,” she said. “A stop sign would at least slow them down.”
According to residents and officials, 5th Street, which is two ways, is also dangerously narrow.
“Visibility is blocked by parked cars so it’s a visually very difficult section to drive through,” said Dan Miner, senior vice president of LIC Partnership, a neighborhood advocacy group.
Residents and elected officials said they had been reaching out to the DOT for over a year now, asking the agency to address the problem, but no action has been taken.
A DOT spokesman said Friday that the agency had evaluated the location for stop signs, but that it did not meet federal guidelines. The spokesman added, however, that the agency is studying a range of ways to limit traffic problems along 5th Street from 47th Street to 50th Avenues.
Joan Chimes, a resident of a nearby Citylights building, said she wrote to DOT at least three times in the last six months. “I think the area actually needs traffic lights,” she said, adding the problem affects other intersections along 5th Street. “We have a school and many pre-schools here. There are lots of families with children in the area.”
P.S. 78 is just two blocks away from the intersection and two more schools — a high school and an elementary school — are being built in Hunters Point as well. There are also a couple of large, brand-new buildings that have started accepting tenants or are about to do it.
“More and more people live here,” said Van Bramer, who represents the area. “Enough is enough. It’s time to calm traffic on 5th Street to protect the people and children who live here.”