DOT considers adding signal or stop sign near PS 11
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 17, 2018 | 602 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reviewing Skillman Avenue near PS 11 in Woodside for a traffic signal or all-way stop sign, an agency spokesperson said last Tuesday.

The announcement came after parents, educators and students joined Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to rally for more traffic-calming measures near the school.

Since the school opened its $91.8 million annex last year, students have changed their walking patterns for arrival and dismissal, according to Principal Elizabeth Pena-Jorge. The main entrance was moved from 56th Street to Skillman Avenue, a busy thoroughfare that has no crosswalks or stop lights.

“Our students need to be safe crossing Skillman Avenue,” she said. “We must have a stop sign or traffic light for them.”

PS 11 also uses 54th Street as a dismissal site. More than 350 students come out of each exit. While there are crossing guards at 54th and 56th streets, there are none on Skillman Avenue because there are no sidewalks.

Crossing guards can only be placed at corners or intersections with sidewalks.

Pena-Jorge said while there have been no incidents with kids crossing the street yet, they want to avoid an accident by taking measures now.

Mindy Bichler-Green, co-president of the Parent Teacher Association at PS 11, said parents have been asking for a crosswalk, crossing guard, stop sign or stoplight since last year. They collected nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition that was passed on to DOT.

The PTA leader said although she doesn’t experience dismissal as much because her children attend after-school programs, she has seen the how “chaotic” it can be, especially for parents with children in different grades.

“My son is in kindergarten, he comes out at this exit, and my daughter is in 3rd grade, so she comes out there,” she said. “You’re running from side to side to get to them.

“There are people going in every direction,” she added. “It’s not safe.”

Councilman Van Bramer pointed out that the stop sign on 55th Street, where cars come off from Roosevelt Avenue, has not stopped drivers from rumbling through.

“There are people making that left-hand turn and blowing through it very fast,” he said. “There are people going back and forth all the time between the library and the school. There are no crosswalks to get there.”

Van Bramer said he was “angry and outraged” that DOT initially said they would not add traffic-calming measures the school community has requested. He urged the agency to act on the changes immediately.

“If we wait until a tragedy occurs, it is too late,” he said. “It is too late if someone gets hurt here.”

The DOT has also proposed redesigning Skillman and 43rd avenues, including possibly adding protected bike lanes. But Van Bramer said he would put those plans on hold until something is done about the Woodside school.

“I will not entertain any plans to change Skillman or 43rd avenues, and even contemplate bike lanes, until PS 11 is taken care of,” he said. “Nothing happens until this is right.

“If you leave this area the way it is, with the new patterns of coming and going, with some of the speeding and turns happening, you are inviting a disaster to happen,” Van Bramer added. “Do it before a tragedy occurs.”

A DOT spokesperson said the review comes after several meetings with PS 11, the PTA, Community Board 2 and the councilman’s office. There will also be a meeting soon on the Skillman and 43rd avenue redesigns.

“DOT is working with the council member’s office and the community board to select a new date for a community meeting on this project,” the spokesperson said.
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