2017-10-06 / Front Page

After accidents, Cathedral Ave. to get new traffic signal

BY RIKKI N. MASSAND

Last month Trustee Mark Hyer, chairman of the village’s Traffic Commission, brought on a round of applause inside Village Hall’s meeting room with a stunning announcement – a traffic signal residents of Garden City’s central section and from all over the village have advocated for along an increasingly perilous county road. Nassau County informed the village on September 21, prior to the village traffic commission meeting, Cathedral Avenue will have a new signal installed in the coming months.

“I am sure a bunch of people in this room will be happy to know that the county has gotten back to us and officially told us that we are going to get a light at Cathedral and Third Street, so that’s been approved by Nassau County and it has to go to their vendor. It’s done. Hopefully it will be fast for them install it soon and I am happy we got it done; it was quite a process. We’ve had a lot of verbal communication and they said they are going to do it. We finally have written communication from them that it’s going to be done,” Trustee Hyer said, to his fellow Commission members and an intrigued but thankful audience. One resident in the audience wanted to know how fast and the Commission was pressed for answers.

Trustee Robert Bolebruch explained that Hyer, Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson and the village administrator’s staff have been in touch with county officials for many months on the Cathedral Avenue need. “Trustee Hyer has been working on this and he’s been on the phone, sending emails, he has done everything – believe me when I tell you working with the county you will never get people to react as fast. The situation was not arguable with the county although in different aspects it can get frustrating,” Bolebruch said. Hyer was modest and he thanked Jackson and village staff for working on it too,” Hyer said.

CPOA traffic safety liaison Pat DiMattia told Hyer, Bolebruch and all the Commission the CPOA appreciates their dedication to the cause.

“You know we have been pushing for this and the broader issue is that Garden City has a number of other intersections that need to be addressed by the county. On behalf of the CPOA we thank you,” she said. Nine days earlier at the CPOA’s September 12 meeting, village Deputy Mayor Theresa Trouv√© announced that adding a new signal was still in the county review phase. As reported in The Garden City News on September 15 and in articles this June and July, members of the community shared a sense of urgency to address Cathedral Avenue vehicular traffic. As discussed at the September 12 meeting, CPOA traffic safety subcommittee chair Kathryn Cole shared alarming data on accidents: since January 1, a total of 29 have been recorded on Cathedral and Third Street, while six occurred on Fourth Street.

Cole attended the September 21 Commission meeting and thanked Jackson, the GCPD, and Trustee Hyer as she sent several accident photographs of Cathedral for their review. Hyer told her and the residents on hand “I am glad it worked out the way that we wanted it to. Clearly it was an issue.”

More Nassau County-related issues remains as the village hoped for controls at Golf Club Lane and Eleventh Street, in front of the Garden City Senior Center, and another at Washington Avenue, where the county was investigating the potential for a consistent turning arrow. Hyer said a determination was expected to be in by the end of September for the senior center ‘crossing.’

The Washington intersection is being addressed, however.

“As far as Washington and Eleventh, Nassau County agreed to make the period of time the signal left-turn arrow is in effect longer. They did not agree to keep it on 24 hours like we had requested,” Hyer said. Commissioner Jackson noted that the plan involves adding on time during rush hours to the green arrow signal. “They are trying to add for rush hour but not keeping it 24/7,” he told the Commission.

Hyer says he is eager to discuss the intersection further with county officials, but the progress of having one change in place helps.

Key Four-Way Stop Signs Approved

Also at the September 21 meeting, the Garden City Traffic Commission approved a four-way stop sign for Kingsbury Road and Lefferts Road in the East. Tricia Byrne was one of two Garden City mothers who live in the vicinity spoke to the Commission about dangers near the school bus stop as parents notice the cars stopping short, and recently a bad accident took place there. Sarah Pascale of Kingsbury Road initiated the request to the Traffic Commission.

“At 5 p.m. the traffic on our road is just insane, every single car basically runs right through the stop sign. It is kind of a cut-through from Eleventh Street which does not really continue straight but there’s a cut-through and turn to Kingsbury. Every neighbor on our block has signed a petition, save for one gentleman that lives on the corner of Washington because he wants the village to address that intersection first,” Byrne said. One of her neighbors says many people signed as they’ve seen cars “flying down that street.”

She brought a picture of an accident as well as a video on a tablet showing a dangerous intersection. Parents have taken more proactive measures as the situation grew worse and school opened in September; Byrne says she her neighbor bought handheld stop signs on Amazon.com and she stands at the school bus stop to help alleviate concern over the intersection, as the bus stops south on Lefferts towards Kingsbury. “People continuously pass the school bus and if the bus has a sign sticking out and the street corner has a stop sign, they’d know they have to stop,” she said.

Trustee Hyer noted the stop sign on Wyatt Road and Lefferts. The concerned residents stated there are three blocks between that stop sign and the next one up towards Old Country Road. “People just fly down the street, if kids are playing and balls go into the street they don’t slow down at all. We can hear brakes screeching and horns honking all the time,” a resident said.

Hyer commented that he saw the aftermath of the accident in person. He confirmed with the EPOA that their recommendation given just two days prior, Tuesday, September 19, was to approve the four-way stop.

Reasons were further laid out as residents contended that adding a four-way stop sign on Kingsbury, “even if drivers roll through it, would limit the number of opportunities for accidents because there’s more of a chance of people stopping. No one really stops along the road and we think another opportunity for people to slow down or stop can really diminish the possibility of an accident.”’

Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson said speed surveys over seven hours indicated that 455 cars had traveled down Lefferts, about 38 cars per hour, and southbound there were 603 cars, or 50 cars an hour. The average speeds were 24 and 25 miles per hour for Kingsbury and Lefferts. The GCPD had records of accidents this year and prior to that, one in 2011. “We did notice the highest volume point was in the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. range. School bus information was also provided by the school district with a.m. pickup and p.m. drop-off of 15 students,” Jackson said.

DiMattia then described the flow of traffic from Eleventh Street in the East, “What the ladies describe is that quickthrough from Eleventh, and the left and a quick right. That happens very, very and even though spends may not reflect that it is a quick thing if you’re on the other side of it, you may not be prepared for it. I see the speed of that quick/quick as the issue,” DiMattia said.

Specific criteria exists within the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as Commissioner Jackson has referred to at the past several Traffic Commission meetings. However Kingsbury Road and Lefferts Road did not meet that MUTCD criteria and average vehicle speeds were not in the 40 mph range (for 85% of cars). Residents commented “that’s fast!” and Hyer explained that on local roads the village’s speed limit is 30 miles per hour. The Commission noted the low speeds but agreed with the EPOA recommendation, and approved the four-way stop.

One Deferred, One Denied

Another request for a stop sign was deferred in September and sent to the Estates POA for further consideration ahead of the next Traffic Commission meeting in November. Village Engineer Craig Bandini made a request to install stop signs on Kilburn Road, at its north and south intersections with Merillon Avenue in between the LIRR station and Garden City High School. The village’s Superintendent of Public Works Joseph DiFrancisco commented: “the road leads toward the high school and there’s no stop signs at this intersection. Brixton Road on the next block has two stop signs, north and south, and for whatever reason Kilburn does not. Our engineer felt stops signs would be necessary and useful at that intersection,” he said. Police Commissioner detailed one accident there in each of the years 2012 to 2014, but none since then.

Also on the September 21 Traffic Commission agenda was a request from Avi Bulka, a resident who’s often caught in traffic waiting or the light to change at the Clinton Road and Commercial Avenue intersection in Garden City’s eastern border. He asked that the Traffic Commission consider a left-turn signal, but following the EPOA’s decision the request was soon denied.

Steve Ilardi, EPOA vice president and liaison to the Commission, said the EPOA had discussed the idea and determined that the signal would only compound traffic problems there. Police Commissioner Jackson added a thought from the GCPD’s experience that it would be easier for traffic backing up on Commercial Avenue and a more dangerous traffic situation should the left-turn signal contribute to backing up traffic north, to and from Stewart Avenue. Jackson added that the backups existing now on Commercial Avenue do happen “for about an hour and a half on weekday afternoons.”

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4th Street could use one as

4th Street could use one as well. The lack of any shoulder space, no dedicated turn lanes and signals, all side streets two-way traffic, delivery and work vehicles parked in driving lanes all contribute to an unsafe road. Look into restrictions on turns & crossings between 2nd and 6th. Many other neighborhoods have alternating one way side streets.

Great news. Could also use a

Great news. Could also use a light at New Hyde Park Road and Yale/Salisbury intersection. People speed daily from Stewart Ave to the Fairmount Blvd/Chester Ave intersection. While Yale/Salisbury don't exactly line up, having a light there would help slow people down. And the light could be timed to blink when the gates go down at the Stewart Manor RR tracks, like the light at Nassau Blvd and South Ave.

There needs to be a complete

There needs to be a complete overhaul. Reduction of lanes, more lights, speed bumps. GC should not be a cut through for the world. There should also be dead ends, especially on the borders. Old Country Rd in the NE, Hempstead border, and more. It's become too large of an issue.

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