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Residents Continue to Battle for Speed Bumps On Kessel Street Between 71st and 72nd Avenues

Kessel Street and 72nd Avenue (Google)

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.”

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Heidi Chain

In addition to speeding vehicles there is an abundance of long term parking vehicles who search out streets in Forest Hills without alternate side of the street parking and stay for weeks to months at a time. Contacting 311 or the local precinct has no effect and the tickets are closed without sending out any Police Officer or DOT official to chalk tires. Now the oversized tractor-trailers have discovered these areas as well and have shifted from the North side of Forest Hills to the South and park their commercial vehicles for extended periods which is illegal in several ways. Residents are furious and annoyed that this issue persists and the local authorities do not address the issue when contacted.

Disenfranchised Resident

Union Turnpike has been the “shortcut” to by-pass the JRP for years but now the new route through the side streets along Metropolitan Ave have become thoroughfares creating congested and thousands of dollars in damages to vehicles parked on these streets. Trucks, buses and everything in-between try to pass each other on the narrowest streets all the while breaking mirrors or damages the vehicles of residents. The side streets along Metropolitan Ave between Union Turnpike need to become one way and blinders must be installed on any side street with a light to deter motorists from speeding down them to make the green light. Sadly the officials in this area are reactive and not proactive. They will not do anything until someone is injured or worse and lawsuits are filed. Forest Hills is a community with representatives that have no interest in bettering the area or addressing concerns. Blind eyes and deaf ears.

Sara Ross

I’m in Forest Hills on a main Blvd and there are speed bumps on the side streets. Vehicles don’t slow down to go over them
Also, on my street, I’ve seen cars go through 4 green lights and when they’re at a red light, they roll up into the intersection as if it’s a stop sign and go through the red light. Also, I’m tired of paying for roads that people who use bike lanes (all 10 of them) don’t pay anything to use.

Jackie Smith

I’m in Forest Hills on a street people use as a cut-through from Yellowstone to Metropolitan, and they speed with abandon. The DOT has ignored our blocks requests for speedbumps for years!

Meanwhile, as a cyclist, pedestrian, and transit user, I’m paying a ton for those roads. Despite the myth, car users only pay a fraction of what it costs for those roads, and the rest is made up from the general fund. My taxes are paying for those roads too. And I’m tired of subsidizing free, on-street car storage for the fewer than 40% of households that own a car and dedicating huge amounts of public space to those cars getting around. And that’s not even taking into account the environmental and social costs that automobiles impart on our city.


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