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Queens Chronicle

In College Pt., another boulevard of death?

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Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2008 12:00 am

Residents living near the corner of 125th Street and 25th Avenue in College Point believe it is only a matter of time before a child is killed by a truck using 25th Avenue as an illegal shortcut through the area.

About 40 frustrated and angry residents gathered at the intersection on Friday to call on the city to put in a four-way stop sign, make the street one-way northbound from College Point Boulevard or place “no truck” signage along the street.

“There is nothing, not a speed bump, not a signal, nothing, to slow those trucks down,” one resident said, interrupting her sentence to point to a Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of New York truck whizzing by on the way to its College Point facility. “There’s a school just a block away,” said the woman, who did not identify herself, referring to P.S. 29.

The residents were joined by Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who told the gathering that the city is totally bureaucratic and couldn’t care less about people or children. “Their only concern is with accident statistics,” he said, adding that the Department of Transportation undertook a study in the area in 2004 and determined that the existing signage is appropriate.

A frustrated father said nothing will happen until someone is killed. A woman who lives three houses from the intersection said that her husband won’t pull out of their driveway unless she is standing in the street guiding him because trucks come over the hill so fast. College Point has a number of industrial plants and warehouses with narrow residential streets and out of the way cul-de-sacs.

Because of the unique geography of this part of Queens, which is on a peninsula behind Flushing and LaGuardia Airport, drivers rely on College Point Boulevard and 20th Avenues, the principal conduits into and out of the area.

One resident, Deborah Heinichen, said the DOT believes “no truck” signs are in place, but that they were removed. The agency could not be reached to confirm that. Heinichen said she is opposed to making the street one way, but wants more signs to be posted.

Gloria Cavalcante has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years but thinks that the traffic has gotten progressively worse over the last 10 years. There are constant accidents at 124th Street and 25th Avenue, she said, and she is concerned that there is nothing to make trucks slow down.

During the gathering, which lasted about 20 minutes, three Pepsi trucks, several school buses and a continuous stream of vans and cars went by. Some residents questioned why the 109th Precinct doesn’t enforce the no-truck laws. Avella pointed out that there are only 183 officers for the whole precinct.

He tried to approach the DOT to have all-way stop signs put in at the intersection, which would make the route less attractive to truck drivers. If residents want to pursue the one-way street proposal, they will have to take up a petition, he said.

Several residents carried files of correspondence with the city and the DOT dating back over a decade. One, Dorothy Preisner, has lived in the area all her life and says that there are accidents caused by the trucks and by speeding all the time and she wants something done.

Streets in the area are narrow and often one-way. To prevent congestion and disruption to normal traffic flows, the city has developed truck routes, which are supposed to keep heavy vehicles out of the residential sections of the neighborhood. This has resulted in congestion along College Point Boulevard. And because truck drivers generally don’t own their trucks and are paid per trip, they have an incentive to use residential streets, rather than the correct route, residents alleged.

Because of the lack of stop signs and signals on 25th Avenue, that’s the route preferred by truckers between Ulmer Avenue and College Point Boulevard, they added.

Avella asked that residents record the license plates and truck numbers of trucks and call his office so he can follow up.

Welcome to the discussion.