DOT: ‘No’ St. Theresa stop sign

Frank Tranchese of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association is upset with the city’s Department of Transportation. DOT recently denied a request for stop signs where St. Theresa Avenue meets Pilgrim Avenue. Photo by Daniel Beekman

Pelham Bay resident Frank Tranchese, St. Theresa School principal Josephine Fanelli and Senator Jeffrey Klein asked the city’s Department of Transportation for stop signs where St. Theresa Avenue meets Pilgrim Avenue. Motorists careen down St. Theresa from Westchester Avenue. School children and elderly churchgoers use the street. Tranchese collected more than 300 signatures.

On February 25, DOT borough commissioner Constance Moran sent Klein a message: request denied. On the morning of a 2008 DOT traffic study, only 329 vehicles crossed Pilgrim on St. Theresa – fewer than the requisite 500.

Existing stop signs slow traffic where Pilgrim meets St. Theresa. DOT would install additional signs if five preventable accidents occurred at the intersection within a single year. According to the NYPD, two accidents were reported in 2008.

“St. Theresa is a busy street,” said Carol Villalobos, a St. Theresa School parent. “What are they waiting for? They’re waiting for a child to get hurt.”

The crossing guard leaves at 3:30 p.m. Fanelli’s sports and drama programs last until 5:30 p.m. The school hosts evening and weekend activities as well.

On the afternoon of DOT’s traffic study, 262 vehicles crossed Pilgrim on St. Theresa. Only 59 school children crossed St. Theresa on foot – fewer than the requisite 100. Most motorists crossed Pilgrim on St. Theresa at 24 or 25 miles per hour.

“I’ve seen DOT people there…during school vacation,” Villalobos said. “Of course the street is going to be less busy.”

Tranchese is upset. He recently drove to the top of St. Theresa and let his car coast to Pilgrim.

“I hit Pilgrim going 25 miles per hour,” he said. “I never touched the gas. Most people go 35 or 40.”

On March 5, Klein sent a letter to Moran’s boss, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

“Given the educational and spiritual importance of this location…my constituents and I are deeply disturbed and disappointed that our request was rejected,” Klein wrote.

The senator asked Sadik-Khan to bend the rules for Pelham Bay’s anxious taxpayers. Last year, a child on roller skates was struck at Pilgrim and St. Theresa.

Tranchese isn’t about to give up.

“If we have to, we’ll have mothers stand in the street,” he said.

Father Jacob Thumma of St. Theresa Parish called the intersection “scary.” Elderly parishioners are his chief concern.

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