HUNTERS POINT — Residents and local leaders who have been calling for safety improvements on a roadway in Long Island City took matters into their own hands by making their own stop sign and crosswalk after the Department of Transportation denied the increased saftey measures.
The group, which included City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and parents and children from local elementary school P.S./I.S. 78, erected a cardboard stop sign and used chalk to make their own crosswalk Friday near the school at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue.
Residents and elected officials have been seeking changes for Center Boulevard, saying the lack of traffic controls makes it a hazard to pedestrians. The road is adjacent to two schools as well as two waterfront parks.
"Too often drivers treat Center Boulevard as a speedway," Van Bramer said in a statement. "For years the Department of Transportation has denied the community’s requests to have traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures installed along this growing residential street."
According to Van Bramer, there have been five crashes along the stretch during the first four months of the year. It was not clear how many injuries there were.
The DOT turned down the councilman's request in April for traffic calming measures for the intersections with 47th Avenue and 47th Road, Van Bramer's office said.
According to the DOT, the agency studied those intersections, as well as those at 48th and 49th Avenues, a little over a year ago and determined they didn't meet federal guidelines for additional traffic controls at the time.
In a statement, a spokesman said that "safety is DOT's top priority," and that the DOT is currently re-evaluating the intersections of Center Boulevard at 48th and 49th Avenues — where P.S./I.S. 78 is located — for a stop sign or other traffic control device.
Those studies are expected to be completed next month.
"Additionally, DOT, along with its partners, are working on a future capital project to reconstruct Hunters Point streets and other infrastructure to address the recent growth in the area," the statement said. "Traffic calming to make streets safer and work better for all users, especially pedestrians, is a key part of the project."
An online petition calling for stop signs, speed bumps and crosswalks along Center Boulevard has garnered more than 600 signatures.
"For more than 10 years P.S./I.S. 78 has been positioned on Center Boulevard which is a road that has no visible markers indicating to traffic that a school actually exists here," Cara Lamberg, a vice president in the school's PTA, said in a statement.
"We need action from the Department of Transportation now before a child or pedestrian gets killed."