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Jamaica Estates residents worried about intersection

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neighborhood residents say officials have not done

enough to upgrade safety t

By Daniel Arimborgo

Despite improvements to an accident-prone Fresh Meadows intersection, neighborhood residents say officials have not done enough to upgrade safety there.Speeding through the problematic intersection at Midland Parkway and Chevy Chase Street in Jamaica Estates, the site of numerous complaints by residents, will be somewhat controlled by new 30 mph signs at the juncture of Kent and Chevy Chase streets. The work should be completed by June 15. But residents say a small slope approaching the intersection blinds motorists to it and increases the tendency to speed through the four-way juncture when a car is driving downhill.The community has been trying to get traffic signals for the intersection for about 16 years. "Speed kills, it just hasn't killed yet, and we're lucky," said James Gennaro, a community Board 8 member who sits on the board's transportation committee. Gennaro lives on Chevy Chase Street, within eye-shot of the intersection. He said he has seen numerous accidents happen there. "When you're driving 40 or 50 mph, it's nearly impossible to stop," resident Sam Herskowitz said."Despite the scores of accidents that have occurred here, the community's formal requests to the Department of Transportation over several administrations have not resulted in significant safety improvements . . .," Gennaro wrote in an open letter to Mayor Giuliani and city Transportation Commissioner Wilbur Chapman."It is only a matter of time until DOT's dithering results in the loss of life," he said in the letter."Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 30 mph, but there are already 20 mph speed advisories," Gennaro said.A sign warns motorists of the approaching intersection about 100 feet before they reach it and advises a 20 mph speed limit, which is not enforceable, according to city Department of Transportation spokesman Keith Kalb. As a result of the letter and community pressure, City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills) pushed for changes that resulted in the new 30 mph signs. But what is needed, residents say, is a speed bump or hanging traffic lights, or a stop sign for cars driving along Midland Parkway. "The people in this community believe the only way to make this community safe is to make the cars stop when they come to this intersection and the only way to make them stop is a four-way blinking red signal or a traffic light," Gennaro said."They should have a stop sign up there on Kent as well as at Chevy Chase," Michelle Lowenwirt said."We have a large Orthodox community and on Saturdays, on the Sabbath, people have to walk," said Zana Herskowitz. She said many school children walk to nearby PS 178. "My son knows not to walk to school without me," Herskowitz said. Intersection improvements were also made elsewhere in the Fresh Meadows area: "Stop ahead" signs will be erected on the stretch of 76th Road approaching 150th Street in Kew Gardens Hills. Left turn signals for the collision-prone intersection of Union Turnpike and Parsons Boulevard have been approved in both the eastbound and westbound directions of Union Turnpike. Installation of the signals should be completed by May 31. And a request made for a speed bump at 72nd Avenue between Park Drive East and 141st Street by the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners' Civic Association has been granted.

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