2008-10-23 / Top Stories

DOT Studies Generally Determine Traffic Signal Needs

By Dara Mormile

Newly-installed traffic light at "raceway"intersection.          Charles RogersNewly-installed traffic light at "raceway"intersection. Charles Rogers Some residents cross the same busy street dozens of times and may wonder why a traffic signal has not been installed at a particular intersection.

Representatives with the Department of Transportation (DOT) said they received nearly two dozen calls in the past year about traffic signal requests within Community Board 18, but not all requests are granted because some streets may not warrant signage.

One local street where a traffic light was recently installed is at Farragut Road and East 78 Street, near the Yeled V'Yalda Early Childhood Center (formerly Temple Shaare Emeth). Officials at the school approached Gardy Brazela, president of the Friends United Block Association that represents the area. Brazela then contacted Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who asked the DOT to conduct studies of traffic at the intersection to determine if a signal was necessary.

"The key to getting that light was having the DOT do the study when kids were getting out of school," said Weinstein spokesperson Freda Menos. "While there haven't been any fatalities on that street, there were enough accidents to warrant a signal."

In order to determine which intersections need a traffic signal or Stop sign, DOT engineers examine existing conditions to decide if a signal at a particular location is appropriate. They study the pedestrian and traffic flows, accident history and the possible passing of school children and bicyclists.

Sometimes these studies assess traffic volume by assigning a DOT employee, who counts and records passing vehicles. Another method is to place instruments that count cars at intersections. In conjunction with evaluating traffic volume, accidents reported to the local precinct are also examined.

According to District 18 Manager Dorothy Turano, community board officials typically offer little input when it comes to traffic lights and signals.

"We're responsible for budget requests where repaving and reconstructing streets is concerned," she said. "But any resident can call the DOT and make suggestions on where a signal should be put."

State Senator John Sampson recently announced that after many years of complaints by residents near Seaview Village, a light was installed at East 108th Street and Avenue L.

For years some nearby residents have referred to East 108th Street, from Flatlands to Seaview avenues, as a "raceway," due to speeding cars that regularly use the thoroughfare to get to the Belt Parkway by avoiding lights on other streets.

If you live near a street that you believe requires a traffic signal, call 3-1-1 or your local elected officials.

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