The accident happened around 11:30 a.m. at the corner of 72nd Street, when a delivery truck got caught on the Parks Department tree-cutting truck’s white extension arm, according to police officers on the scene.
The driver of the delivery truck did not realize that he had snagged the back of the other vehicle and kept driving, only stopping once the Parks truck had been completely pulled over onto its side.
An officer on the scene said that the drivers of both vehicles were fine, but the accident closed down the street and built up blocks of traffic for three hours until the truck was removed.
Danielle Mascia, who works at Connolly’s on the corner of Grand and 72nd right at the scene of the accident, walked out of work to see what was going on.
“I saw the fire trucks coming up the street, and I saw them kind of slow down, so I went into the party room,”Mascia said. “I couldn’t believe I didn’t hear anything. You would think with a truck like that, you would hear a big crash.”
Local business owner Tony Nunziato said that the crash is an example of exactly what he and other residents have been trying to avoid as they fight to decrease truck traffic along Grand Avenue.
The problem has existed for years, as commercial trucks use the Grand and Flushing Avenue corridor to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
Back in 2005, after receiving support from Queens Community Board 5, Nunziato introduced a plan for a Grand Avenue Truck Bypass to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The plan was approved quickly.
“From the beginning we always said there was always a bypass around every small town in America,” Nunziato said. “Trucks don’t go down Main St. because that’s where people walk across.”
The implementation of the plan, however, took longer than its approval. The bypass required the redesign of the intersection of 58th Street with Maspeth and Maurice avenues. The new layout, which included several one-way conversions intended to smooth traffic flow through the five-leg intersection of 56th Terrace and 58th Street with Maspeth and Maurice avenues, was finally completed in 2012.
But the problem still exists, as evidenced by last week’s accident. Nunziato believes the power to change things lies with the police.
“Enforcement is the answer to keeping these trucks off of Grand Avenue,” he said.
Others in the neighborhood agree. In June 2013, the COMET Civic Association hosted a rally to highlight the continued problem of heavy truck traffic on Grand Avenue.
At the rally, community leaders called for traffic court judges to enforce summonses issued to truck drivers along the corridor; for DOT to update the truck route map on their website showing the Grand Avenue/Maspeth Bypass; and for the 104th Precinct to be given support units that were trained and equipped to conduct full-scale motor carrier enforcement on a regular basis.
Nunziato, who owns Enchanted Florist in Maspeth, said that not only does having large trucks clogging and running through Grand Avenue put pedestrians in harm’s way, but it also is bad for the small businesses along the avenue.
“You’re putting the small businessman at a disadvantage, because no one wants to come down a street that’s going to be clogged with traffic,” he said, “and what’s causing that traffic is oversized tractor trailers.”
At the top of his concerns, though, is safety.
“This is one of the oldest towns in Queens,” Nunziato said. “There are fourth and fifth generation people living in Maspeth, why do they always have to be worried about their safety?”