After decades of dealing with the shrill screeching of muscle-car tires and the roars of large crowds lining Maurice Avenue, Steve Cawley now has some peace of mind.
The longtime 65th Street resident this Tuesday profusely thanked City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) for their efforts in getting the Department of Transportation to install several speed humps along Maurice from 61st Street to Tyler Avenue in Maspeth.
“This is the best thing to happen to this street since I’m here,” asserted Cawley, who has lived near Maurice for more than 53 years.
The traffic-calming measures, which were installed last week, are aimed at combating drag racing and speeding.
Cawley described the illegal street competitions as “a circus,” where hundreds of people gathered on the strip after blocking the driveways on side streets with their own vehicles. He said it was not unusual for him to call 911 two or three times in one weekend night.
Van Bramer noted, “Residents have been living in fear for far too long. Today, we’re here to declare victory. The checkered flag has been raised on drag racing on Maurice Avenue.”
DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan indicated on Tuesday that the agency was alerted to the issue last November, when elected officials and residents rallied at the same intersection of Maurice and Tyler.
“This stretch of Maurice Avenue is one of the more dangerous in Queens,” she said, before noting that the DOT has installed 102 speed humps across the city so far in 2011, on pace for more than 160, which would set a new Big Apple record.
“We’re doing everything we can to make our streets as safe as they can possibly be,” Sadik-Khan continued. “Still, 31 people have been killed or seriously injured here over the last five years.”
Some say drag racing isn’t the only quality of life issue affecting the neighborhood.
Crowley characterized Maspeth as “a small-town community in a big city” that has been “burdened by too many traffic-related problems,” including trucks clogging up major thoroughfares, causing noise and sound pollution. She commended Sadik-Khan and the DOT for addressing the big rigs with the recently implemented Maspeth Bypass plan.
Roe Daraio, president of the civic association Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, said she lives a quarter of a mile from the affected portion of Maurice and can hear the sounds associated with drag racing nonetheless. She hailed Tuesday as “a great day for our community.”
Councilman Jimmy Vacca (D-Bronx), chairman of the Transportation Committee, called it a “day-and-night improvement.”
“The speed bumps are a fantastic addition, and on this block [they] will be a key to slowing drivers down,” he said.