Traffic light suggested for deadly intersection

Police recommend installing a traffic light at the intersection of 115th Avenue and 227th Street in Cambria Heights, where a young driver was killed last month. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Police in Cambria Heights are recommending installing a traffic light along a heavily traveled stretch of road following a deadly accident last month that has raised concerns about speeding in the neighborhood.

Paulina Rodriguez, 24, of St. Albans, was killed Nov. 18 when the 2011 Hyundai she was driving north on 227th Street ran through a stop sign at 115th Avenue around 3 a.m. and was struck on the driver’s side by two vehicles heading east toward Nassau County, police said.

Rodriguez’s 19-year-old passenger was taken to the hospital in stable condition and the drivers of the two other vehicles refused medical attention at the scene, according to the police.

After the accident, police conducted a 72-hour study of the intersection and found that motorists tend to speed down the roadway in the early morning hours.

Deputy Inspector Joseph Courtesis. of the 105th Precinct, explained that the closest traffic lights along 115th Avenue are three blocks to the east and two blocks to the west of 227th Street.

“If you’re traveling eastbound, you’re travelling approximately 1/2 mile with no traffic light,” he said. “Speeds can build up.”

Courtesis said he was recommending installing a traffic light at the intersection, where there had been six accidents so far this year — the second-most in the 16-block stretch along the avenue from Springfield Boulevard to 231st Street.

115th Avenue runs under the Cross Island Parkway and heads into Nassau County and is one of the more heavily trafficked roadways in far eastern Queens.

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) said her office was flooded with calls following the accident from neighbors concerned about speeding.

“People were very upset and a lot of people in the community called because if you move around in the streets, you can just tell cars are driving too fast,” she said.

Earlier this year Clark had introduced a bill that would double the maximum fines for speeding in residential areas, though the legislation stalled in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

After the accident, the assemblywoman renewed her push to garner support for the bill.

“Something is definitely needed to address this,” she said. “It’s an ongoing issue. I’ve done different things like requested speed bumps and more stop signs and traffic lights, but there’s all these rules and regulations DOT follows before they install these things.”

“It’s unfortunate that it seems like we can always find a solution only after a fatality,” she added.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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