Dec. 18, 2018 By Meghan Sackman
A number of Forest Hills residents are once again making the push for speed bumps and stop signs in a section of the neighborhood they say is dangerous.
The residents say that speed bumps are needed on Kessel Street, between 71st and 72nd Avenues, and stop signs in “both” directions at the intersection of Kessel and 72nd Avenue. They say that Department of Transportation needs to take these measures to prevent speeding.
Currently, the stop sign at the intersection of Kessel Street and 72nd Avenue as well as the traffic light at Kessel Street and 71st Avenue is not preventing drivers from speeding. Drivers, they argue, stop at the sign at 72nd Avenue and then accelerate to the light at 71st Avenue, which is often green by the time they reach it.
This is the second time that residents, led by Chris Caballero and Dom Boe, have sought these traffic-safety measures. The DOT rejected their request the first time, stating that speed bumps couldn’t be installed due to the number of driveways and other curb cuts on the street.
Boe and Caballero renewed their efforts at the Community 6 Board meeting last Wednesday when they presented a copy of an online petition created on Aug. 18, 2017. The petition calls for speed bumps along Kessel Street between 72nd Avenue and 71st/ Continental Avenue and stop signs in both directions at the 72nd Avenue intersection.
“We, the residents of Forest Hills, rightfully demand that our elected officials install speed humps and erect stop signs immediately,” says the petition. “This is essential to halt the countless vehicle accidents which have plagued our community for the past two years.”
Since the creation of the petition, Caballero has been posting on Facebook pictures and videos of crashes that have occurred on the block, as a means to rally support.
Caballero handed a print out of the petition containing 1,200 signatures to CB6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio at last week’s meeting. He intends to deliver copies to elected officials.
Caballero told the board that he has witnessed several crashes since he started the petition. He said that his family has recently moved to Kew Gardens, and traffic safety played a significant role in their decision to leave.
The DOT has added speed bumps to other streets in recent times. The DOT has installed—or plans to install– speed bumps on several blocks on Austin Street. The speed bumps on Austin Street are between Ascan Avenue and 73rd Road; 73rd Road and 75th Avenue; 75th Road and 76th Avenue; and 77th Avenue and 77th Road.
With the DOT denying their request, residents have taken matters into their own hands to protect their property. Boe said neighbors have begun planting trees in their front yards to act as a barrier between their homes and out-of-control cars.
Boe told the board that he is concerned about the safety of children—since there are two schools nearby, P.S. 140 and Our Lady of Mercy, and many kids use the street to walk to school. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when, someone’s really going to get hurt,” Boe said.
The board agreed that this was a pressing issue and Joseph Hennessy, CB6 Chair, said that they had reached out to DOT regarding this block in the past, and will reach out to again.
Steve Goldberg, a member of the CB6 board and Transportation Committee, told the two advocates after the meeting that petitions don’t usually have the desired impact and encouraged them to get large groups of people to call their local officials.
The DOT, however, is unlikely to make changes anytime soon.
In a statement the agency said: “DOT continues to monitor conditions in the neighborhood. Ultimately, conditions do not allow DOT to install speed bumps on this stretch due to the frequency of curb cuts. We have been in contact with NYPD to request increased enforcement at this location.”