‘Divine’ light on Oriental

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Manhattan Beach residents are hailing the city’s decision to install a new traffic light on Oriental Boulevard as a true lifesaver this week.

“Thank God it finally happened,” Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo said. “I think they really saw the community outcry.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) confirmed that it is now designing a new pedestrian controlled traffic light to be installed at the intersection of Oriental Boulevard and Irwin Street in March.

“We are delighted that the decision to put a traffic light on Oriental and Irwin was a decision to preserve life,” said Edmond Dweck, spokesperson for the Manhattan Neighborhood Association (MBNA). “It just goes to show that teamwork pays off.”

Demand in Manhattan Beach for the new traffic light has been almost universal — especially so after Kingsborough Community College student Youzdjan Bekir lost his life at the intersection six months ago.

“Some times when you work hard and stay on top you get good results,” Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman said. “Our traffic committee worked really hard on this.”

Advocates expect the light to have an immediate effect on Oriental Boulevard traffic.

“I think it’ll slow the traffic down and entering and exiting the [Kingsborough Community College] parking lot will be facilitated,” Scavo said. “There is no downside. It can only be positive.”

While delighted with the new traffic light at Oriental Boulevard and Irwin Street, both the MBNA and MBCG say they will continue to press the city to upgrade the flashing traffic signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.

The DOT officially rejected that request last month.

“We’re hoping to make Oriental Boulevard a less dangerous boulevard,” Zalcman said. “We’re going to work really hard now to make it a normal light at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, and remove the zebra stripes.”

Dweck said, “I am certain lives will be saved by this move, and even more can be done by converting the light on Ocean [Avenue] from flashing to convention­al.”

With the new traffic light installed, many expect a greater emphasis will be placed on traffic enforcement.

According to Scavo, the 61st Precinct is already “right on board” and has routinely set up radar guns along the boulevard to catch speeders.

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