After years of talking the Department of Transportation said it will narrow the intersection of 51st Avenue and 39th Street in Sunnyside in the next couple months to hinder vehicles from turning right up the one-way street, according to a DOT spokesman.
Drivers on 51st Avenue, which serves as a service road, commonly go the wrong way up 39th Street to avoid the back-to-back traffic on the Long Island Expressway, said 39th Street resident Stephen Grande Jr. The roadway is the last street before cars must either enter the expressway or sit in more traffic to turn right on Greenpoint Avenue.
“We are sitting on a traffic nightmare,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), at a press conference on Aug. 24 on the corner in question.
Grande was in his living room last spring when he saw a tractor trailer backing up in the wrong direction up 39th Street, followed by a stream of cars.
Although Grande said he sees this happen every day, this incident was different because he taped the illegal traffic and sent it to Van Bramer.
“You shouldn’t be able to point your video camera out your window and see this,” the councilman said.
Pedestrians expect cars to drive a certain direction on one-way roads and may not look in the other direction to see illegal traffic before they cross, Van Bramer added.
This issue has been a concern for a while. The councilman asked the Department of Transportation to address the safety issues on the corner beginning in May 2010.
“This is a battle we have been waging for too long,” Community Board 1 Chairman Joe Conley said.
Politicians and residents would like to see a “no right turn” sign on the corner of 39th Street and 51st Avenue. Other traffic calming measures called for are striping to narrow the road and bumping out the sidewalk, making it more difficult to turn up the street. The DOT said it is “designing a treatment to narrow this area,” but no specifics were released.
“Short-term or temporary fixes just won’t cut it here,” Van Bramer said.
The 108th Precinct has doled out five tickets at a time at this location, Grande said, but Van Bramer wants increased enforcement in the form of a designated traffic agent stationed at the corner.
“It’s dangerous, and enough is enough,” Grande said.