Today’s news:

Cop crackdown at death corner

Bronx Times

Motorists speeding through Morris Park: you’ve been warned.

The 49th Precinct says they are ramping up efforts to enforce traffic safety at a residential corner within the nabe where two Bronxites were killed within a month in late 2013 after being struck by traffic.

Since last summer, cops patrolling the site in marked and unmarked cars have doled out 300 summonses for speeding, moving violations and using a cell phone while driving near Williamsbridge Road and Neill Avenue, according to NYPD statistics.

Spike in crashes

Two deaths at the corner within a month have locals searching for answers.

On Dec. 22, 40-year-old Bronxite Albert Marku was struck by a car and killed at the corner while riding his motorcycle. A month earlier, on Thanksgiving Eve, 55-year-old Maria Lucaj was struck at the same corner and died days later at Jacobi Hospital.

In total, the intersection accounted for a whopping 18 collisions in 2013, said the Four-Nine’s commanding officer, Inspector Lorenzo Johnson. Besides the two deaths, five people were seriously injured there.

A collision occurred as recently as Jan. 8, when three cars crashed at around 8 a.m., causing drivers to be transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

A speeding hub

Drivers blaze through Neill Avenue, using the strip as “an expressway” to get from highway to highway, charged Joe Reda, a Morris Park local who for over two decades has chaired local Community Board 11’s public safety committee.

“They speed, they cut people off, they race to the red light,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t even look when they make turns.”

The strip has fewer traffic lights than nearby Morris Park Avenue, making it more attractive for speeders, Reda said.

Another cause of concern is a gas station at the corner that boasts some of the cheapest prices in town. Cars line up outside the station, backing up traffic and prompting some drivers to take aggressive turns, locals said.

Possible Solutions

The carnage has prompted the community board to ask the city’s Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic study there, assessing the need for a left-turn only signal, said District Manager Jeremy Warneke.

Morris Park’s push for traffic safety comes as new Mayor de Blasio, citing 286 traffic deaths in 2013, has vowed to bring traffic deaths to a screeching halt.

He labeled the deaths an “epidemic” at a Jan. 15 press conference and announced that he was embracing “Vision Zero,” the idea of eliminating all traffic deaths in the city.

De Blasio said the NYPD’s Highway Division, which investigates traffic deaths, would be increased 50% in manpower to a total of 270 officers.

He ordered a slew of city agencies, including the NYPD, DOT, Department of Health and the Taxi Commision, to present detailed plans to him by Feb. 15.

Ben Kochman can be reached via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742–3394

Pin It
Print this story Permalink
CNG: Community Newspaper Group