Dead end for street light - DOT denies request for busy corner

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) has denied a move to install a traffic light at the corner of Humboldt and Withers streets again, despite the efforts of residents who remain concerned about cars speeding through the intersection throughout the day.

“We feel that a traffic light is needed [on that corner],” said Tish Cianciotta, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Withers Street and Area Block Association. “A police cadet died there and there have been accidents. We’re trying to prevent what happened to that young police officer.”

On August 11, 2005, police cadet Gaspare Guinta, who lived in Williamsburg, died in a traffic accident at the corner. Since then, Assemblymember Joseph Lentol and Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito have written several letters to DOT requesting a traffic light and a traffic study.

Neighborhood residents have sent petitions and letters to the DOT, asking that they to find ways of reducing the speed of cars exiting the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway along Humboldt Street.

The DOT conducted a field evaluation and engineering review in December 2005, but found that additional traffic controls were not warranted based on their analysis. Community Board 1 and members of the Withers Street Block Association also met with DOT Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri on the corner.

Residents are mainly concerned about cars accelerating down Humboldt Street after exiting the McGuinness/Humboldt BQE exit and the safety of their children who play outside on the streets.

One family who crosses the intersection with their stroller wrote a letter to Palmieri this June after witnessing the aftermath of a car accident. The family witnessed an accident in May of this year where a parked car was totaled.

Lentol wrote another letter urging the DOT to investigate the area for a proposed traffic light after receiving complaints regarding the safety of the intersection. After completing their analysis, Palmieri wrote back in May, stating that the DOT took into account vehicular and pedestrian volumes, accident experience, vehicular speeds, visibility, and signal spacing in the area before making their decision.

“Based upon our evaluation of the data collected, it is our judgment that a traffic signal is unwarranted at this time,” Palmieri said in a letter written to Lentol.

A spokesman for the DOT who looked into the accident data on the corner found an infrequent history of accidents on the intersection and explained that the reason the request may have been rejected was because the area did not meet any of the eight indicators for warranting traffic controls.

Cianciotta believes that the DOT’s original traffic survey was not done correctly, since it took place while a water main broke and there was construction on the street, which affected traffic. The DOT contends that the survey was extensive and studied traffic patterns over a 12-week period.

Members of the Withers Block Association say they will continue to pressure the DOT for some form of traffic control in the neighborhood whether it is a light, a stop sign or speed bumps.

“We wanted to do it for the mother of the cadet,” Cianciotta said. “It would have given her some peace.”

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