Members of the Maspeth West End Block Association led children from PS 153 and elected officials in a rally Friday to get a traffic light or speed bump installed at the intersection of 60th Street and 60th Road. Residents said motorists speed down the road and threaten the safety of the students.
“We have been trying for years to get a traffic light at this intersection,” said Charlene Stubbs, vice president of the association.
Numerous sixth-graders, all holding handmade and colored signs, chanted, “Fight for the light!” at the rally.
Stubbs said the spot has long been a point of contention for residents and that civic associations have been trying to get a light for 44 years. She said the speeders pose a danger to children and the elderly in the area who use 60th Road to get to the stores on Fresh Pond Road.
“No mother should have to bury her child for walking around in the neighborhood,” Stubbs said.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) also attended the rally. He criticized the city for not being proactive with this problem and said near-misses and close calls should be considered when choosing a spot for a traffic light or a speed bump rather than whether or not someone was killed in the spot.
“All you parents and children can’t be wrong,” Addabbo said.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) agreed. She has written twice to city Department of Transportation Queens Division Commissioner Maura McCarthy requesting a traffic light.
“All too often these streets are used as speedways,” Crowley said.
Crowley said she did not want another incident like the death of 12-year-old Freddie Endres to happen. Endres was riding his bicycle at the intersection of Fresh Pond Road and Eliot Avenue in August, a few days before his birthday, when a truck struck and killed him.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for our greatest fears to be realized,” Crowley said.
State Assembly candidate Tony Nunziato attended the rally and said parents should not have to fight to get the light.
“It’s disgusting that we have to have these situations,” he said.
Kathy Hamilton, president of the association, said Community Board 5 had submitted a request to the DOT for a traffic study.
“You can’t just look at the accidents,” Hamilton said. “You have to look at the speeding and the population of the children.”
Scott Gastel, spokesman for the DOT, said the DOT would begin a study of the area within two weeks.
Mary Re-Seaman, a crossing guard who works in the area, said she hoped the rally was successful.
“I hope this does the trick,” Re-Seaman said. “Something does need to be done.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2010 Community News Group
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