Councilman Vacca supports Waterbury-LaSalle Vision Zero ‘road diet’ plan over CB 10 objection

Councilman Vacca supports Waterbury-LaSalle Vision Zero ‘road diet’ plan over CB 10 objection
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

An elected official is spearheading an effort for more traffic controls on an accident-prone stretch of roadway, despite local opposition.

Councilman James Vacca is requesting that the NYC Department of Transportation implement a road calming plan on East Tremont Avenue between Waterbury Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard known as a ‘road diet.’ The plan was first presented to Community Board 10 in spring 2015.

The plan developed by DOT, part of the mayor’s Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, was rejected by the board.

The proposal calls for the narrowing of the roadway to one lane in each direction for several blocks and the addition of turning lanes.

The push to slow traffic comes after the death of bicyclist Giovanni Nin in a hit-and-run incident at East Tremont and Mayflower avenues on Saturday, June 11.

That death comes on the heels of another fatality where three vehicles killed a pedestrian, 74-year-old Angel Figueroa, when he was crossing East Tremont Avenue at Puritan Avenue in October 2013.

“This is a situation where I could have sat back and said nothing, because every time a change is proposed, there is opposition,” said the councilman, adding that after the CB 10 vote, there were no ready alternatives to the proposal.

“I thought it was something that we could no longer defer action on,” said the councilman, who has sent a letter to DOT requesting the plan’s immediate implementation.

Vacca cited scores of traffic accidents along this stretch of East Tremont Avenue from the start of 2013 to the middle of 2016 that warranted his call to action.

Numerous curves in the roadway, blind spots and persistent speeding makes the effected blocks especially dangerous for motorists and pedestrians, said the councilman.

Cerini, a member of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, is a critic of the plan.

He believes the ‘road diet’ will back up traffic on East Tremont Avenue, forcing motorists to avoid the bottleneck, pushing the traffic onto the residential streets.

Another opponent of the plan, Waterbury-LaSalle activist Andrew Chirico, said cutting down the number of lanes for traffic “will only enrage the law-abiding public,”. Increasing a visible police presence in this area would solve the problem, he said.

A DOT spokeswoman stated that the ‘road diet’ and turning lanes were part of a larger implementation of Vision Zero traffic calming to stretch from Williamsbridge Road to Bruckner Boulevard.

That overall area saw 218 motor vehicle, 59 pedestrian and 10 bicycle injuries between 2009 and 2013, the spokeswoman stated.

When CB 10 voted in 2015, they only voted to approve the part of the plan that ran from Williamsbridge Road to Ericson Place, the spokeswoman stated, adding that DOT is currently working with stakeholders and Vacca to review community concerns for the rest of the plan.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.