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Monserrate bill calls for speed bumps at schools

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Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) proposed legislation Wednesday that would require the Department of Transportation to install speed bumps on the streets outside all city public schools, after citing the recent death of a child who was struck by a car outside PS 92.

With speed bumps near the entry and exit points of the city’s some 1,200 public schools, Monserrate said, drivers would be forced to slow down and pay more attention in areas that are heavily transited by school-age children.

“There are no laws that prevent speeders,” Monserrate said during a Tuesday press conference outside PS 92 near the intersection of 34th Avenue and 99th Street. He said police can only issue tickets to reckless drivers if they see the infraction, but speed bumps would represent a physical impediment to speeding cars.

As he made the comments, Monserrate, who was joined by several representatives from local parent-teacher associations, stood on the spot where 5-year-old Christian Plaza was killed about two months ago by a motorist who was backing up.

Julissa Ferreras, a Monserrate staffer whom the councilman credited with crafting the speed bump legislation, said Christian was walking to school with his mother when a woman who was dropping off her own child accidentally put the car in reverse and accelerated rapidly.

“She was ready to speed off,” Ferreras said.

The car jumped the curb and pinned Plaza against a portion of fence where a makeshift memorial of stuffed animals and cards remains today, Ferreras said.

Monserrate said he sent two letters to the city Department of Transportation more than a year ago — long before Plaza’s death — requesting that the agency conduct the preliminary studies needed to install speed bumps near the school along 99th and 100th streets.

Monserrate said so far his office has received no response to the letters, and Ferreras said they have no idea how far along in the lengthy planning process they are.

The DOT could not be reached for comment.

Both Monserrate and Ferreras conceded that speed bumps would not necessarily have saved Plaza. But they stressed that they might have contributed to greater caution on the part of the driver.

“There’s a different perception a driver has when he’s on a street with speed bumps,” Monserrate said. “It might have been enough to prevent this tragedy.”

“All we know is we have a victim,” said Ferreras, who added that they ran out of the councilman’s local office located just a few blocks away when Plaza’s accident occurred.

The speed bump legislation is aimed at avoiding accidents at all of the city’s schools, new and old, Monserrate said. With an estimated price tag of about $700 per speed bump — they usually come in sets of two — cost should not be an issue, he said.

“This is a common sense application that will save many lives,” Monserrate said.

Reach reporter James DeWeese at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157 or at news@timesledger.com.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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