Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Future Bailey Ave streetlight gets a greenlight

Here's a story that didn't make the paper this week.
By Brendan McHugh

Regardless of who is taking credit, the Department of Transportation will install a new traffic light at the intersection of Baily Avenue and West 234th Street later this year, making the awkward intersection much safer.

Last week, Rep. Eliot Engel sent out a press release applauding the DOT for their actions, setting the assertion that his office was responsible for the new light.

“It will better manage traffic in an area around Kingsbridge Little League Field and Bailey Park, making the neighborhood safer for children and their parents,” he said in the statement.

But a few days later, City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell sent out a statement claiming it was, in fact, his office that brought the issue to the DOT.

“Council Member Oliver Koppell is pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved his request for the installation of a traffic signal at Bailey Avenue and West 234th Street,” the statement began.

As it turns out, Engel’s office had request the DOT examine the area for a stop sign months ago, and more recently, Koppel’s office requested DOT study the area for a traffic light.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

The light, which should be erected by the end of November, comes as “fantastic” news to nearby resident Dr. Robert Drake, who happens to also be taking some credit for the DOT’s actions. 

“When I was walking by there today I saw a bunch of girls, five teenaged girls, dodging traffic and standing on the center,” he said in a phone interview last week. “And a mother with her kid didn’t want to try and cross the street.”

Drake attended Community Board 8’s traffic and transportation committee earlier this year and requested that not only a traffic signal be put in, but additional crosswalks as well. In a March 3 letter to Koppell and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Drake wrote, “The crosswalk at West 234th and Baily Avenue is an accident waiting to happen. The road is posted at 30MPH but many vehicles are traveling at 50-60MPH…”

The intersection is not a typical four-way crossing. Northbound, Bailey Avenue splits into two different roads at the intersection, which can create dangerous hairpin turns for motorists. There is no street going eastbound from the intersection, and 234th Street is one way away from the intersection. Fort Independence Community Center and Bailey Park (with a baseball field and basketball courts) are on either side of the road, and as Drake mentioned, Bailey Avenue is a bus route for the Bx10.

“I’ve had city buses blow right by me,” Drake said. “When a city bus blows right by you, it’s time to do something about it.”

Drake said that not only was he the first person to bring up the problem, but also the reason he was left out of Koppel’s press release was because of a longtime feud between the two over the local schools.

Whoever takes credit, all three are grateful for the safety and order the light will bring to the area.

"I was first suggesting an overhead light,” Drake said, “but I’m not sure it would have been significant. This will be really helpful.”

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