Aug. 30, 2018 By Christian Murray
A traffic signal has finally gone up at a Sunnyside intersection located near an elementary school and playground.
The Department of Transportation installed traffic lights earlier this week at the bustling intersection of 42nd Street and 47th Avenue, near P.S. 343 and next to Thomas P. Noonan Playground. The light began operating Wednesday.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said he was relieved that the light had been installed prior to school starting next week.
He, along with parents from P.S. 343, have been fighting the DOT for years to put a light up there, Van Bramer said.
“We’ve had multiple rallies and marches,” he said. “This has taken years.”
The rallies began to gain momentum shortly after P.S. 343 opened in 2014. At a 2015 rally, Van Bramer said, “Everyday that we don’t have a traffic light at this intersection we are asking families to cross in danger.”
The DOT rejected their requests multiple times over the years claiming that there was not enough traffic in the area to warrant a light.
The last time Van Bramer called for the light was after the DOT unveiled its controversial plans last year to install bike lanes through 43rd and Skillman Avenues.
Van Bramer told the DOT that he would not hold a town hall meeting concerning the redesign of Skillman and 43rd Avenues unless he was assured that lights would go up at the 47th Avenue intersection and on Skillman Avenue by P.S. 11.
The DOT soon after said it would put traffic signals up in both locations—despite the DOT stating over the years that both locations did not meet the qualifications to warrant traffic signal.
The DOT said this week the traffic signal went up by P.S. 343 after it re-evaluated the location. “Based on pedestrian counts and updated projected enrollment numbers for P.S. 343, we determined that a signal was warranted,” a spokesperson said.
Van Bramer did not address why the DOT suddenly came up with two different results from its studies—leading to the traffic signals.
“The main focus is about protecting these kids,” Van Bramer said. “I want to make these streets as safe as possible, and that is why I have been calling for these traffic signals for years.”
“I care less about the how and the why,” Van Bramer said. “We got what we needed–safer streets.”