BY LUIS GRONDA
If you have been driving the streets of New York City like you are Dale Earnhardt Jr., it is time to pump the brakes.
The City’s new 25 MPH speed limit took effect on Friday, officially enforcing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which centers on lowering traffic fatalities.
At the Dept. of Transportation’s sign shop in Maspeth on Thursday, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, along with other department executives, unveiled the new 25 MPH signage that will be seen throughout the City. Most of the major thoroughfares in NYC will now have the lowered speed limit unless there is signage that says otherwise.
At the press conference prior to the change taking effect, Trottenberg said they are trying to make sure every driver and pedestrian is aware of the new speed limit.
“We’re going to seek to put signs in corridors and areas where, particularly, there’s a high volume of traffic,” she said.
The signs were put up just after midnight on Friday, minutes after it went into effect.
John Jurgeleit, the director of operations for DOT, said the agency started putting the signs at bridges and major thruways like the George Washington Bridge first, before moving down to more local routes.
Trottenberg said the agency will put up about 3,000 of the signs by the end of this year.
Prior to the commissioner taking questions from reporters, Jurgeleit led the photographers on a tour of the facility to show how the agency makes the speed limit signs that you see everyday.
They take raw sheets of aluminum and cut them into four by five foot sides, the square shape that is often seen on a major highway or intersection. They then place a reflective light material, which Jurgeleit called sheeting, that your headlights shine off of when you drive at night.
To end the process, they “screen” the text of the street sign onto the aluminum, similar to when you silk text onto a t-shirt, Jurgeleit said. A brush-like device smoothes the text onto the sign.
The liquid that is used produces a strong smell and the workers doing this process wear masks to protect themselves from the fumes.
Workers then placed the signs on a truck that was set to exit the Maspeth facility. Other street signs decorated the factory, including one that said “Flushing Meadows Corona Park” and another one that directs drivers to the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.