Monday, November 16, 2009

Locals' Great Barrier Beef: Pleas for Broad Channel Traffic Guardrail by Brendan Brosh - NY Daily News

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A coalition of Broad Channel residents is calling for a new pedestrian barrier to be installed along a dangerous stretch of Cross Bay Blvd. where fatal car accidents are common.

Local attorney Christina Andrea Hall said she and others have gathered more than 700 signatures in favor of erecting a guard rail to protect people on a pedestrian path near the local bird sanctuary.

Area residents say the stretch is the longest in Queens without a stoplight.

"There's nothing to protect pedestrians for 2 miles," said Hall, who lives near the strip. "We have people walking with baby carriages and little children learning to ride their bikes."

Joanne Kodetsky and her dog were walking along the path in April when they were tragically mowed down by a driver who lost control of her car.

Plans were in place to install a heavily vegetated buffer zone between the boulevard and pedestrians in the 1990s, but it never came to fruition.

The chief of the local volunteer fire department said that telephone poles and trees are knocked down regularly in auto accidents on the boulevard between Broad Channel and Howard Beach.

"There should have been a guard rail there 45 years ago," said Dan McIntyre, chief of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. "There are a minimum of 70 accidents a year on that stretch."

Members of the local community board asked the city Transportation Department to intervene, but were told the installation would be too expensive.

"We tried to make a case, but they said wouldn't put up a guard rail," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14. "Unless the mayor gets involved and forces them to see the wisdom in protecting lives, DOT is the final arbiter on sidewalks and streets."

A DOT spokeswoman said the agency is examining the location for ways to enhance safety there.

Local environmentalists said a metal barrier would best serve the community and local wildlife.

"A simple guard rail would allow smaller mammals to cross the street, which is in the middle of a nature preserve," said Don Riepe, head of the American Littoral Society.

Riepe said that weather conditions can also make the road considerably less safe for motorists and pedestrians.

"It can be especially dangerous after rainfalls, and ponding on the northbound right lane is common," he said.