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City OKs Auburndale slow zone

This part of 203rd Street at 35th Avenue is one of the areas included in the city's upcoming Auburndale slow zone to be installed by the summer. Photo courtesy DOT
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Drivers in northeast Queens asked the city Department of Transportation to put the brakes on an impending slow zone in Auburndale.

Due to be completed by the summer, the new slow zone will run from Francis Lewis Boulevard to the Clearview Expressway and from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue and reduce the speed from 30 mph to 20 mph, the DOT said.

And despite the ongoing efforts of civic leaders, including the Auburndale Improvement Association, some said they wanted a more effective fix.

“The currently approved slow zones have proven to be unenforceable by the police as well as an unsightly mess,” said Carol Ricci, of Bayside. “There is less parking, the boxes are all over the street like debris, and the humps prohibit the residents more than visitors from going more than 10 mph.”

Ricci said imposing a slow zone in such a large area would affect residents beyond Auburndale, and she feared any extra road regulations would only complicate traffic patterns.

“It is a dirty mess with too many signs, too many bumps and too many pieces of street furniture with signs on top,” Ricci said. “Every block will have hash lines, speed bumps, eliminate parking spaces and government graffiti decorating the streets and roads.”

Frank Skala, who sits on Community Board 11, shared similar sentiments when he spoke at the group’s March meeting during a discussion on the proposed slow zone.

“It’s all a hoax,” Skala said. “When you see a cop pull over one person going more than 25 mph, you let me know.”

Henry Euler, vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association and also a member of CB 11, said his group applied for the slow zone in February 2012, believing the community would not be inconvenienced in any way. The DOT accepted the application to reduce traffic noise and cut-through traffic because it said the zone was prone to crashes and injuries.

Since the DOT accepted the application, Euler said he had been working to make sure residents knew exactly where speed humps and new signage would be placed. And when the DOT completes the project this summer, Euler said he and his group would still continue to monitor the area to ensure it fulfills its purpose.

“My civic decided to ask for the slow zone after a petition from local residents was circulated asking for help in curbing speeding vehicles through the area,” Euler said. “We had only requested the slow zone as far up as to the LIRR tracks on the northern border. But the DOT extended the zone all the way up to 35th Avenue.”

The Auburndale slow zone will be one of four in Queens, including sections in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, the DOT said.

The project also received support from various elected officials, including City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside).

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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