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Queens Chronicle

Signal all lane changes, if you can see the lines

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Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:00 pm

   Among seven select highways running through the city, it’s Queens’ own Cross Island Parkway whose lanes are the most poorly marked, increasing the danger to drivers, according to a new study by AAA New York.

   The automobile advocacy and service group periodically puts its lens on the lines on the road, grading them as either good, acceptable or poor.

   On the Cross Island, 53 percent of the segments the AAA surveyed were rated poor — meaning they are either missing or so degraded they’re difficult to see even in broad daylight. Another 25 percent were acceptable, meaning they’re OK in the daytime for drivers with good visibility, but difficult at night or in the rain for those with less than optimal vision.

   This week’s weather underscored the point.

   “At the time of our survey, large sections of the roadway in each direction had either faded or missing lane/edge lines,” the survey said. “In addition, the condition of the pavement in these areas was very poor with numerous large cracks and potholes.”

   The assocation, formerly the Automobile Club of New York, acknowledged, however, that since the road was surveyed, some sections have been repaved and restriped.

   The Cross Island lost out to six other highways the AAA studied for its report: the FDR/Harlem River Drive, which was rated 47 percent poor; the Bruckner Expressway, right behind at 46 percent poor; the Belt Parkway, which was only 12 percent poor; the Grand Central Parkway, 8 percent of which was designated poor; and the Staten Island Expressway, none of which earned the poor lane marking label.

   The roads were chosen because club members had reported that the markings were in poor condition, and the survey was conducted by AAA staff on March 18 and April 1.

   “Missing or poorly differentiated lane markings can cause confusion for motorists and increase the likelihood that a crash may occur, particularly in inclement weather, during nighttime hours and where street lighting is poor,” the club said in its survey overview. “A recent publication from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reported that every 21 minutes a highway death occurs as a result of a lane departure, resulting in 25,000 highway fatalities per year, which is over 60 percent of the U.S. total.”

   Elsewhere in Queens, the AAA noted that it had received many complaints about the Belt Parkway in the past, but that transportation workers have since repaired much of it. There were problem spots with rough pavement and bad markings westbound between Rockaway Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway, however, as well as in some sections in Brooklyn.

   On the Grand Central, lane lines were completely gone eastbound between the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike, while westbound marks were faded between the Clearview Expressway and 168th Street. In that section, much of the problem is due to the pavement itself being shot where the paint would go.

   A problem the AAA saw on many roadways was that lane markings were especially faded in sections paved with concrete, such as on bridges.

   The club recommended “immediate action” to fix the problems and improve safety in the worst areas it studied.

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