Locals upset over new traffic lights at City Island Bridge

Two new traffic signals at each end of the City Island Bridge are raising local’s fears over even more traffic chaos.

The city Department of Transportation installations come amid a storm of controversy over the new bridge design, but they were put in place to accommodate pedestrians because the bridge’s southern pedestrian path was closed after a water main was relocated there for a related replacement project.

“DOT installed new signals at either end of the bridge to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross to the northern path, which remains open,” said DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera.

According to DOT, as motorists approach the bridge heading to the island they will see a flashing yellow signal to remind them that they are in a work zone and that they should drive with caution. They will only see a red signal at that light if there is a pedestrian crossing.

Once motorists cross the bridge and come onto the island, “the signal is currently timed to provide the majority of time to bridge traffic, and DOT is in the process of installing a system that will provide a green signal to Bridge Street only when a vehicle approaches,” said Mosquera.

Traffic backups

Barbara Dolensek, second vice-president of the City Island Civic Association, said that the new signals will cause traffic back-ups unless the city can make changes to the lights.

She said that the light are required under federal guidelines, but that they islanders wished the city would have had an engineer look into the “special situation” and low pedestrian volume at the bridge.

“The problem with this set up that is that it is by-the-book according to federal guidelines, and they are designed for places where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic,” she said, adding that the light situation “has caused a ruckus.”

She said that so far, on at least one occasion she was delayed while leaving the island. The CICA would like DOT to reconsider the placement of the lights, she said.

Elected pitches in

Dolensek said that the CICA “has been back and forth with DOT, and with Councilman Jimmy Vacca on the matter.”

Vacca concurred with the islanders concerns.

“Ever since the lights went up, there have been major traffic backups on the bridge on weekends,” he said. “After I received complaints from City Island residents, I asked DOT to reassess the necessity of these lights, and they have promised me they will do so.”

DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg was scheduled to meet with islanders on Wednesday, April 16, after the Times Reporter deadline.

That meeting is primarily to discuss bridge reconstruction issues, including the design of the new bridge. Presumably, the matter of the lights will also be discussed.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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