Today’s news:

City DOT must fix problems caused by dead end street

The Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association printed an article in its April⁄May 2008 newsletter about the problems caused by the “solution” to the traffic problems at 73rd Avenue and 179th Street.

About two years ago, a car ran the stop sign on 179th Street and smashed into a car driving along 73rd Avenue, killing the driver. Members of the Fresh Meadows civic and the Civic Association of Utopia Estates have long been concerned with traffic at this intersection, as well as traffic along 73rd Avenue during rush hours.

For years, they have requested a traffic light at this location because cars often use 73rd Avenue as an alternate route when the Long Island Expressway or Grand Central Parkway are congested.

The city Department of Transportation decided the location did not require a traffic light, but it polled the homeowners where 73rd Avenue angles to the northwest and Jewel Avenue begins. They agreed to make the area a dead end. The area where Jewel Avenue joined 73rd Avenue was cemented into a dead end with the shape of a hammer. The location is called the “hammerhead.”

One problem is that cars going fast on Jewel Avenue cross Utopia Parkway, continue onto Jewel Avenue and discover they are in a dead end. There is no sign on the eastern side of Utopia Parkway where Jewel Avenue continues to the dead end. There are signs here, as Jewel Avenue proceeds eastward, stating there is a dead end, but nothing to warn cars that they cannot continue eastward on Jewel Avenue and reach 73rd Avenue.

Some cars drive over flower beds at the dead end or over the narrow area of sidewalk to the right onto 73rd Avenue. Those that turn around drive down the center of the street and confront cars coming toward them. Some people make a U−turn and go over the sidewalk and people’s gardens on Jewel Avenue.

The DOT did not realize it was creating this problem. A sign is needed on the eastern side of the intersection of Jewel Avenue and Utopia Parkway to warn people of the partial dead end. There is a street leading north here on Jewel Avenue, but it would take drivers away from 73rd Avenue. Homeowners believe if a white line was put down the center of Jewel Avenue, it would warn drivers that this is a two−way street.

Another problem is that ambulances park here. They can easily jump the curb onto 73rd Avenue if they get a call. It is city policy to station ambulances out in the community so there is a faster response time to a call.

But ambulances parked on the streets in the winter run their engines for hours to keep heaters going and for hours in the summer to keep air conditioners going. This is a terrible waste of gasoline and a cause of pollution.

Another problem is the ambulances parked inside the dead end distract the view of cars driving west along 73rd Avenue and coming south on 179th Street. Also, school buses during the middle of the school day park along 73rd Avenue west of 179th Street.

Members of the Fresh Meadows civic, coming south on 179th Street, complain they have to inch out into the middle of 73rd Avenue to see if cars are coming eastward along 73rd Avenue because of the ambulances and buses parked here. More signs are needed along this side of the park and more enforcement is needed.

Still another problem is the poor concrete mix and new sidewalk at the dead end is flaking. The DOT has not agreed to meet with the civic association. It should meet with the civic leaders or the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee to solve these problems.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: While we do not want more excuses to give traffic tickets, we do not want to be broadsided by cars and those big SUVs running red lights.

To try to stop people from going through red lights, the city has asked for more red light cameras at dangerous intersections. There are some now in Queens. The state Legislature has passed and Gov. David Paterson is expected to sign a bill authorizing 150 more red light cameras in the five boroughs. Some people fear drivers will slam on their brakes if a light turns red suddenly, thus causing a rear−end collision. If people drove slower, there would not be a need to slam on their brakes.

While some people bemoan more ways for the city to give tickets and collect more money, it is important to make people fearful that a camera will catch them going through a red light and slow down and prevent an accident.

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