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LIC elementary school seeks stop signs for busy streets

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When school lets out at PS 76 on 10th Street, hundreds of children flood the streets into one of the city's densest manufacturing districts, walking home to Ravenswood and the nearby Queensbridge Houses.

School officials said they have made at least a half-dozen requests for stop signs on the corners of 10th Street and 36th and 37th avenues, saying that children are risking their lives when they cross the busy two-way streets.

"Can you imagine that we've had to make this plea over and over and over? It seems bizarre," said Theresa Decrescenzo, the school's Parent Teacher Association president. "These are not outlandish requests."

The city Department of Transportation is in the middle of a traffic study for the school's latest request for stop signs and speed bumps on 10th Street, said spokesman Tom Cocola. The application, which was filed in April, should be answered by the beginning of June, he said. He was not aware of the school's previous applications and said he could not comment on the status of the current one.

On Friday morning, vehicles sped down the two avenues that border the school. Cars from a livery cab company across the street from the elementary school whipped around the block onto 10th Street without stopping. Trucks barreled down 37th Avenue and toward the entrance of the nearby Keyspan Corp. power plant. Flatbeds and cargo vans were parked along each street, obstructing the view of traffic in both directions.

Decrescenzo said pedestrians have to venture into the middle of each street to look both ways. While both avenues are heavily traveled, the school is assigned one crossing guard on 36th Avenue, school officials said. The guard's watch begins at 8 a.m., a half hour after the school opens for breakfast.

The school has roughly 700 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, said Jane Basile, a school aide. About 500 of them walk to and from school. Several years ago one student was hit by a car on 36th Avenue, and Basile was amazed that more students have not been injured since then.

"These children are crossing with angels, let me just tell you."

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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