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Middle Village mother asks for stop light

A Middle Village mother is drumming up support to have a traffic light placed at an intersection now regulated by a four-way stop sign.

More than 120 people have signed a petition circulated by Andrea Roach, a 61st Road resident, calling for a traffic signal to go up at Juniper Boulevard South and 69th Place, an intersection she said is heavily traveled by children.

“What we need there is a stoplight,” said Roach, 40, a mother of three. “Being there’s no stoplight there, people are just free-wheeling it down that street.”

The intersection sits three blocks west of Juniper Valley Park and one block to the east of Lutheran Cemetery. Roach said her primary concern is the abundance of schools and day care centers in the area: for example, the Books and Rattles Day Care Center sits on one side of the intersection, while PS 128 Juniper Valley School is around the corner.

Both Juniper Boulevard South and 69th Place carry two-way traffic, and all vehicles are required to stop before proceeding into the intersection.

But Roach believes the stop signs are not adequate to regulate the traffic.

“People don’t know what to do when they hit a four-way stop sign,” she said. “They’re sort of dumbfounded. Everybody insists on going first. People just drive through and there’s a lot of children crossing that corner.”

Roach submitted the petition in early December to Community Board 5, which will evaluate the request before forwarding it to the city Department of Transportation.

But Vincent Arcuri, the chairman of the board’s transportation committee, said the existing traffic controls may turn out to be more effective than a light.

“I think it would be a worse situation” to put up a stoplight, Arcuri said. “People tend to speed toward the light to make the light before it changes. With all way stop signs, at least they slow down. I think it’s probably more dangerous with a light than with all-way signs. But we’ll look at it.”

Robert Holden, Juniper Park Civic Association president, agreed that sometimes lights can cause more problems than they resolve.

“I don’t know if a light necessarily protects pedestrians because (vehicles) have a green in one direction and they’re turning into you,” Holden said.

Arcuri said he had not yet seen the petition, which will likely be discussed at the next transportation committee meeting.

The all-way stop signs had been put up a number of years ago after a lobbying effort by people living around Juniper Valley Park, Arcuri said.

Lisi de Bourbon, a city Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said high traffic volume is the primary factor in assessing the need for a signal, according to the federal standards the city follows. But even a low-volume intersection can be eligible for a signal when it turns out to be accident prone, she said. Two accidents have occurred at that location this year, the most recent on Dec. 12, she said.

“We’re more than willing to take a look at an intersection that is troublesome to residents,” de Bourbon said.

To give an accurate reflection of traffic at the intersection, Roach said a traffic study has to be done during the school year, because that is when traffic is heaviest and young pedestrians are crossing the street.

“If you’re going to be doing the study in July, it’s going to be a lot different than the traffic patterns in December through February,” Roach said. “I’d like for them to do it as soon as possible before the school year ends.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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