BY JAMES FARRELL
Bay Terrace residents finally have a traffic signal after nearly 20 years of waiting.
The city’s Department of Transportation announced on Aug. 17 that the signal, at the intersection of 26th Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street, would be installed. On Oct. 2, they held a press conference to celebrate the installation.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said that the traffic signal has been on his list of priorities since the group started in 1999.
“This was our first issue that we took on, having a left-turn signal at this location; every year we brought it up, and every year, DOT told us they couldn’t do it,” Schreiber said. “Finally, here we are and I guess it just shows that you should never give up. You have to keep fighting. And we finally have this signal, which is going to make it safer for everybody.”
The intersection had been seen as a hazard by many in the community, as traffic builds up from cars coming off the Clearview Expressway and from the nearby Bay Terrace shopping center. It was seen as potentially dangerous to pedestrians, many of whom are members of the nearby SelfHelp Clearview Senior Center.
“We’ve been hearing about this and our members [at the senior center] have been advocating for this for years, bringing it up when the mayor was here for the town hall,” said Sandy Myers, a representative for the SelfHelp Community Services, who runs the Clearview Senior Center. “We’re just so grateful for it.”
The new traffic signal is also a first for Queens, employing a new technology—never before seen in the borough—that only triggers the turning signal when cars are waiting in the left-turn lane, according to DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. If no cars are waiting to turn, then the signal is skipped, preventing excessive delays in traffic.
“This much-requested and now-installed left-turn treatment is a direct result of advocacy from many of the people that are standing with me today,” Garcia said.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) were both present, and reminisced on years of fighting for the signal. A representative for Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) was also present. All three elected officials issued press releases following the initial announcement in August claiming to have played a role in the new signal.
Avella said that he has worked on the issue for 20 years—even before he was elected into office for the first time as a city councilman. Holding a plastic, hockey-puck-sized sensor, he explained that three such sensors were located under the pavement, and that if they detect the metal from an automobile in the turning lane, they initiate the left-turn sequence.
Each “puck” costs about $400 dollars and is installed approximately six inches below the ground.
“Obviously, this is a great thing and I’m really amazed at the size of this and the fact that they can do this,” Avella said. “This is probably, when you think about it, the best system that we could come up with.”
Vallone called the signal the “number-one complaint” when he took office last year.
“This is one of our most congested areas,” he said. “Probably in our four years this is one of the best things we’ve been able to do.”
Garcia also announced that other traffic improvements would be coming to the Bay Terrace community in the coming months. That includes curb extensions, new medians at 211th Street and some new accessible ramps.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 129, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.