Nearly every civic association in Maspeth for the past 50 years has petitioned the Department of Transportation for a traffic signal or other calming device at 60th Road and 60th Street to ensure pedestrian and driver safety, according to Maspeth West End Block Association Co-president Charlene Stubbs.
Like many other residents with children attending PS 153, which is on that block, Stubbs is concerned that the sign on 60th Road and 60th Avenue indicating a school zone is not enough to deter reckless drivers heading toward Metropolitan Avenue.
“If every civic association in Maspeth has complained, don’t you think there’s something wrong with that intersection?” Stubbs asked at her group’s most recent meeting.
According to Stubbs, the Department of Transportation last did a traffic study of the area a couple of summers ago that concluded a stop sign wasn’t warranted and that the placement of a speed bump would create too much noise in such a largely populated residential area.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is working to get a new study, but the association fears it will be held in the summer again, when there is a lot less traffic.
Stubbs mentioned that Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) also tried to help, rallying alongside the parents a few years ago, even using signs that the PS 153 children made.
“It’s an issue she’s very well aware of,” said Javier Lacayo, spokesperson for Crowley. “She wants some sort of safety measure at that intersection but ultimately it’s in the Department of Transportation’s hands.”
According to Lacayo, several letters have been sent to the DOT since at least 2010 from area elected officials including Addabbo and Crowley.
“The DOT says that they don’t find it necessary,” Lacayo said. “Unfortunately, we can only complain and send letters so many times.”
Members of the West End Block Association are perplexed by the lack of progress they have made and some even suspect political shenanigans are at play. At the meeting, they recounted how a resident at 59th Place and 59th Drive requested a traffic light in November 2011 and one was installed in March 2012.
With a church on the corner that has many elderly followers, and a school with over 1,000 enrolled students, Stubbs hopes officials will recognize the urgency of the matter.
“We have more children in schools now, more homes, more cars, more people in the community,” she said. “We need something there.”
The DOT could not be reached for comment by press time.