Residents living a block away from the Long Island Expressway in Sunnyside celebrated a traffic victory last Friday morning.
The Department of Transportation installed a plastic barrier and painted striping to prevent drivers from going the wrong way up 39th Street, which is a one-way roadway.
Seems clear enough, but before the temporary barrier, drivers on 51st Avenue, which serves as a service road, desperate to not enter the stop-and-go traffic on the LIE frequently made a last-ditch effort to avoid the annoyance and would drive the wrong way up one-way 39th.
Last spring 39th Street resident Stephen Grande Jr. filmed a tractor trailer backing up in the wrong direction up the street, followed by a stream of cars. Grande said that happens every day.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words,” Community Board 2 member Al Vargas celebratory press conference said on Friday.
And those pictures, which were sent to the DOT, lit a fire under the department, which had been discussing the problem with the community board since May 2010. Within two months workers painted striping on the road and then a week later installed the plastic barrier.
“Some people still go around it once in a while, but it definitely makes a huge difference,” said Grande, who added that the street is a lot safer for the many children, other residents and pets of the block.
Moving forward the DOT may eye the corner for a permanent cement barrier, according to Delila Hall, Queens’ Deputy Borough Commissioner for the Department of Transportation.
“That would require dollars and significant work,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “We will continue to push for it.”