Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Elected officials tackle school traffic crisis

I said I would hold off until tomorrow, but I thought I'd leak one story from the Riverdale Review today. Jump below for the full story, plus a document drop of the letter sent to the DOT.

By Brendan McHugh and Miawling Lam 

Stop signs, a lower speed limit and another change in arrival times are among the proposals flagged to solve the traffic snarls and gridlock outside two of Riverdale’s public schools. 

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz joined Councilman G. Oliver Koppell and State Senator Adriano Espaillat and submitted a list of five traffic-calming measures to the city last Tuesday.

The recommendations were drawn up amid growing safety and traffic concerns of the streets surrounding P.S. 24 and M.S/H.S 141, particularly along Independence Avenue. 

In the joint letter sent to Bronx DOT Commissioner Constance Moran, the trio calls for stop signs to be placed at West 235th Street and Independence Avenue, as well as new pavement markings for both northbound and southbound traffic. 

The elected officials also propose the creation of a 20-mile per hour zone for the entire corridor from West 232nd Street to West 246th Street.

Jump below for the full story and the letter.

"We believe that these issues need to be resolved now, as the situation appears to have heightened during this school year,” the letter states. 

“We consider this a priority for our community and we are working closely together on this matter.” 

The proposals were developed in consultation with the schools’ parent leaders, the 50th Precinct and members of Community Board 8. 

The issue first reared its head earlier this year at a community board committee meeting when members of the PS 24 parents association requested a stop sign at the West 235th intersection. The board instead asked DOT to study the area first and is still waiting on those results. 

Recently, the traffic and transportation committee of CB8 formed a working group with the schools’ parent leaders to address the problems, and they plan on writing their own letter, similar to the letter drafted by the politicians, for the DOT. 

“I think they’re very good suggestions,” said Dan Padernacht, chair of the traffic and transportation committee. “It brings in everyone involved: local residents, the parents, the schools and the police.”

Among the other recommendations include an extension of the school bus loading and unloading area on West 235th Street and the construction of a speed bump on the northbound lane of Independence Avenue between West 232nd Street and West 235th Street.

The principals of P.S. 24 and RKA should be brought together to coordinate a strategy over school arrival and dismissal times, the coalition of elected officials said. 

“A recent change in the school start time for M.S/H.S 141 may have had the unintentional effect of increasing the congestion in the area during the a.m. peak period,” the letter states. 

“The adjustment of school start times by five minutes in each direction may alleviate a part of the problem.” 

Local residents believe the traffic chaos was exacerbated after Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy changed their arrival and dismissal times at the start of the current school year. 

Under the changes, all RKA students now start and finish school within 10 minutes of their younger counterparts. 

This year, RKA students will attend school from 8:20 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., while P.S. 24’s school day runs from 8:10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In keeping with tradition, Kindergarteners are dismissed at 2:20 p.m. The changes were designed to beef up RKA’s extended day program, principal Lori O’Mara said.

The latest development comes a week after parents from P.S. 24 and M.S/H.S 141 wrote their own letter to a slew of local elected officials and lobbied for action. 

As always, hit expand to read the document.

Independence Avenue and West 235th Street

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