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UES Intersection Goes Dark After MTA Shuts Power to Street Lights: Locals

By Shaye Weaver | November 2, 2016 6:36pm
 Lights on each corner at 72nd Street and Second Avenue have been off for about three weeks, residents say.
Lights on each corner at 72nd Street and Second Avenue have been off for about three weeks, residents say.
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Valerie Mason

UPPER EAST SIDE — Residents have been on edge crossing a neighborhood intersection since it went dark three weeks ago after the MTA shut off power to street lights there as part of Second Avenue subway construction, they said.

The only light pedestrians have when crossing the intersection at East 72nd Street and Second Avenue is from the headlights of cars headed their way, according to locals.

"This is just horrible and dangerous," said Joseph Puglisi, the resident manager at 320 E. 72nd St., just steps from the intersection on Wednesday. "The walkway is slippery and the pavement is broken up. It's inexcusable not to have lighting here."

Puglisi, who has lived near the intersection since 1979, said he noticed the street lights had been shut off since at least Oct. 7. He's been pestering the MTA to get the lights turned back on, and was told by a representative that it involved work being done on the Second Avenue subway entrance on the corner.

He and other residents were also told that the issue stemmed from a dispute the MTA is having with its contractor, Puglisi said.

The MTA did not respond to requests for comment.

There's only one light on at the northeast corner of the intersection, but it is facing away from the street and is shining on the entrance of a pharmacy, Puglisi said.

The bridge the MTA's contractor put up around the subway entrance on the southeast corner has no working lights either, creating another dark area on the crowded sidewalk, he added.

"It's like we have to fight them for something that shouldn't be," Puglisi said. "Do you want to help the community? This is difficult for baby carriages and seniors."

Already the number of pedestrian deaths this year is the highest of any other in recent years, with seven to date, at least four of which involved pedestrians walking in crosswalks.

The de Blasio administration announced on Oct. 27 that the city will be redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the city enters "the deadliest time of year for pedestrians" on city streets.

The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to an increase in traffic injuries and deaths, officials have said.

The 72nd Street Second Avenue Subway entrance has been behind schedule and could potentially impact the opening date of the line, according to a consultant for the MTA.

During a Tuesday joint meeting between Community Board 8's transportation committee and Second Avenue Subway task force, residents demanded that MTA Capital Construction officials solve the problem before Wednesday night.

"Suggestions were made that if for some reason the contractor can't get the lights working that they should go hire a generator and lights," said Barry Schneider, who co-chairs the task force. "There's a sense that enough isn't being done to address the problem."