No response from DOT on Bayside traffic study

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The results of a city Department of Transportation traffic study on the intersection between 46th Road and the southbound Clearview Expressway service road, where Christopher Scott, 11, was killed, were due Nov. 30. But the agency had not produced its conclusions by CB 11's Monday night meeting.

CB 11 Chairman Bernard Haber said his group provided the DOT last week with information on at least seven accidents at the site.

Christopher was riding his bicycle from the east side to the west side of the pedestrian bridge at 46th Road and the Clearview southbound service road in Bayside on Aug. 17, and was the first of his friends to approach the service road when he was struck and killed by an oncoming car.

Christopher, who would have attended nearby MS 158 this fall, was the second boy in six years to be killed in a car accident near that pedestrian overpass. John Shim, also 11, was killed at the same ramp in July 1994.

On Monday night, Christopher's mother, Virginia Scott, and grandmother, community activist Loretta Napier, stood in the auditorium of MS 158 in Bayside and urged Community Board 11 to push for additional traffic devices, such as a stop sign or stoplight at 46th Road and the Clearview southbound service road.

The DOT, which in August said it had no record of John Shim's death, was slated to complete a traffic study of the intersection Nov. 30.

The agency did not return repeated calls for comment this week, and Napier said the family had had no recent contact with them.

"In September I was of the opinion that DOT was procrastinating," Napier said. "As of this moment, I feel that way. I want that particular spot corrected."

CB 11 Chairman Bernard Haber - who wrote a lengthy letter to Queens DOT Commissioner William Baier in August outlining possible alterations to 46th Road and the southbound service road - said the board contacted DOT last week to ask about the traffic study.

Haber said DOT engineers had told him their report was complete with the exception of Department of Motor Vehicles accident reports for the site.

He said CB 11 was able to obtain the accident reports and furnished the DOT with the information.

"We have seven reports that can be documented," Haber said. "A letter went out today to Commissioner Baier. We told him the community is absolutely furious.

"We do need traffic devices at that location," he said. "They're not going to turn this community down."

Haber, who did not specify when the accidents he learned of had occurred or whether they involved fatalities, said the board would contact DOT this week for an update.

The DOT made several changes to the service road near the pedestrian overpass in the weeks following Christopher Scott's death by adding striping to push traffic away from the bridge entrance onto the street, banning bicycle riding on the overpass and extending fencing to restrict the size of the overpass entrances to the street. The overpass ends at the side of the southbound Clearview service road, where there is no curb or sidewalk to buffer pedestrians from oncoming traffic.

Virginia Scott, who looked visibly upset at the CB 11 meeting, said, "it gets increasingly difficult to speak before people and ask for support.

"The footbridge is one block from my home," she said. "I look at it every day. I watch cars drive over the lines. We still need a stop light there. DOT is dragging its feet."

Napier said "we've been very patient. We're not going to wait another 90 days. The community wants this."

Civic leader Mandingo Tshaka, president of the Bayside Clear-Springs Council, suggested that a crossing guard be placed at the pedestrian overpass, which is used by children walking to both MS 158 and PS 31 on Oceania Street.

Tshaka also recommended cementing over weeds and plants next to the overpass entrance that can block a pedestrian's view of oncoming traffic and adding medal rods or reflectors to the street to alert drivers to the new striping that eliminates one lane near the bridge entrance.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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