City to install traffic signal at Ditmars, 75th St. corner

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More than two months after a 10-year-old boy was struck and killed by an SUV at Ditmars Boulevard and 75th Street, the city Department of Transportation has approved requests for a traffic light to be installed at the Astoria intersection.

Residents, public officials and community activists praised the June 26 decision but noted the installation was long overdue and that the neighborhood had paid a terrible price for it.

Stefan Trajkovski of Astoria was riding his bicycle along Ditmars Boulevard the evening of April 12 when he was struck by an SUV driven by 19-year-old Emmanuel Kanios of East Elmhurst, police said. Kanios fled the scene, but turned himself in to police early the next morning, according to authorities.

The decision to install the traffic signal followed a six-week study during which DOT employees monitored traffic flow and speed at the location, the department said. The study confirmed what neighborhood residents had long reported: that high volumes of traffic passed through the intersection, often at speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour along a thoroughfare where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour.

It will be six months before the signal is installed, according to the department.

“I think it is great,” said Maria Dapontes-Dougherty, president of the PTA at nearby PS 2, where classmates of the boy, Stefan Trajkovski, wrote to public officials calling for the traffic light. “It is a great thing for the fifth graders who sent letters in ... Your voice does make a difference.”

But Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, said the measure was “long overdue” for a street on which motorists frequently speed. Her organization, which represents area homeowners, requested the traffic study the morning after the April 12 accident.

“Sadly, it was after the fact,” she said. “Certainly, we were remiss in not having requested the light long before that.”

The signal, when installed, will still leave the five-block stretch from Hazen to 75th streets without traffic lights, an area Poveromo called a speedway. She said the civic association was now requesting an additional signal at 71st Street.

News of DOT’s decision came on the same day that state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and city Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., (D-Astoria) joined school officials to dedicate the playground in Stefan Trajkovski’s honor.

Kanios was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and speeding, while an additional charge of manslaughter was still being considered at press time, the Queens district attorney’s office said. He is due to appear in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens July 29.

Antoinette Kaczmarksi, an area resident who lives near Ditmars Boulevard and 76th Street, applauded the DOT’s decision, but also slammed the agency for waiting so long.

“There’s always got to be a fatal accident before anything happens,” she said.

Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for DOT, said deaths like Trajkovski’s while tragic do not on their own lead to decisions by the department to install traffic lights or stop signs. Instead, she said, DOT based its determinations on strict federal guidelines.

And Rita Morris, another resident, dismissed the notion that the action was too little, too late.

“It’s never too late,” she said. “It’ll stop something else from happening.”

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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