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Avella hammers city DOT on traffic island dilemma

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If you see City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) walking around Bayside with a sledgehammer in the next few months, stay out of his way.

Last week the northeast Queens councilman held a news conference to call attention to a overlarge traffic island at 212th Street and Bell Boulevard near the entrance of Fort Totten in Bayside. Avella said he had gotten complaints from at least 30 residents who have damaged their cars by inadvertently running into the traffic island.

“It’s about six inches to a foot too far into the intersection,” Avella said. “You don’t notice it until boom! You hit it.”

Avella said he contacted the city Department of Transportation about the extra-long traffic island back in late February or early March, but nothing had been done to fix the situation.

“Five months later I’m really disgusted this hasn’t been taken care of,” he said. “If (DOT) can’t fix it, I’m going to take a sledgehammer and break it up myself.”

A spokesman for the DOT said Tuesday the traffic island would be taken care of next month.

“We’re going to cut the curb to fit the roadway,” spokesman Tom Cocola said.

The curb becomes a bigger problem, Cocola said, if drivers are going to fast.

“We encourage folks to take it easy out there,” he said.

Avella said the traffic island mistake was created about a year ago, when new sidewalks leading into the entrance of Fort Totten were installed.

The area is a heavily traveled section of Bell Boulevard with traffic flowing northward from the Bay Terrace Shopping Center and the Throgs Neck Bridge nearby. The entrance to Fort Totten is also adjacent to an entrance for the northbound and southbound lanes of the Cross Island Parkway.

The councilman said when he first saw the traffic island about five months ago, “there were three or four cars all on the side of the road, all with blown tires. Two cars had two blown tires.

“I could see even standing there that cars were hitting it or narrowly missing it,” he said. “There’s no reason for this. I was furious it has taken so long.”

Cocola said part of the delay came from the need for a mason to do the repair work and the DOT only has a few masons on staff.

“Our masons have work to do around the paving season that ends around next month,” he said.

Avella voiced frustration at the DOT’s lack of action.

“If they have to be embarrassed into fixing it, so be it,” he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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