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Traffic light woes

A new traffic light installed at the intersection of Balcom Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard has drivers coming to a screeching halt.

But they aren’t just confused or surprised; many are angry, and now afraid to drive that stretch of road until the situation is remedied.

The light was installed in the eastbound lane of Bruckner Boulevard at Balcom Avenue.

It is located just around the bend from a sharp turn, so that stopping abruptly — especially since drivers are still unaware they should expect to see a light there — can be very dangerous.

“Coming around the bend, seeing that traffic light, I stopped, but a lot of cars behind me didn’t, and zoomed past me,” said an anonymous local motorist over the phone. “I pretty much felt like I was sitting at that light waiting to die.”

Indeed, Throggs Neck Home Owners Association president Lynn Gerbino agreed, and felt that the light was a poor decision by those responsible. “It is a blind location,” she said. “It would be better a block further west. People cannot see it as they come around the turn. Even if they installed a stop sign, I am not sure drivers would see it in time.”

“What is this light for?” asked Patrick O’Rourke in a letter to the editor last week. “I see more accidents occuring as no warning was posted further down stating a new traffic light ahead. I was almost rear ended due to the light as it is not expected,” he wrote.

O’Rourke also noted, as have other residents, that the purpose of the light could not possibly be to assist pedestrians, because no one is ever seen crossing Bruckner Boulevard right there, and there is not even a sidewalk on one side of the Bruckner.

The Department of Transportation studied this intersection following a request from Senator Jeff Klein’s office to look into traffic there. On July 23, DOT workers installed the new light.

Klein’s office did not specifically advise the DOT that a traffic light would be a good solution, but did suggest something be done because the sharp turn created a stretch where drivers were travelling too fast. Recently, a drunk driver had lost control after the turn and slammed into a fence on the right side of the boulevard, a short distance from Balcom Avenue.

Clearly, the DOT hopes that drivers will come to learn that a light is situated there, and slow down ahead of time. A stop sign, as some residents have suggested as an alternative, actually would not be appropriate due to the heavy traffic at the spot.

The DOT would not comment on the reactions residents have had to the light, but spokesperson Montgomery Dean did say, “We will continue to monitor the intersection to determine if any further changes, such as additional signage or markings, can reinforce the signal operation.”

Klein, meanwhile, acknowledged that, “Upon the installation of the light, my office received mixed reviews from area residents about its placement.”

He commented that he will continue to work with DOT to “determine the best means to maintain the safety of this corner.”

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