The last highway exit before the Throgs Neck Bridge is again being cited as a safety matter.
On Thursday, June 7, a Locust Point resident of 15 years raised the issue of the troublesome I-95 exit at the 45th Precinct Community Council meeting.
Frustrated by an ongoing bridge construction project that stores its materials between the exit and the roadway entrance a hundred feet south, 63-year-old Maria Guzzone pointed out the dangers awaiting local drivers at the off ramp’s jucture with the local street.
As cars exit the highway, drivers cannot see vehicles traveling west on the Throgs Neck Expressway Service Road because a 6-foot high green fence screen obstructs the visability of those attempting a left turn.
“We don’t want to have to wait until there’s a major accident for someone to help us,” Guzzone said.
The fence covering, which was installed by a bridge construction contractor to hide the unsightly storage area from the public, is unwittingly creating a blind spot.
Three years ago Joe Donovan, the president of the Locust Point Civic Association reached out to the MTA Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, seeking a remedy.
However, at the time its response was the construction fence covering could not be removed until the contract for the construction project was completed.
“We’re trying to be patient,” said Donovan, a lifelong Locust Point resident.
“There’s a lot of empty (space) on the side of the highway,” continued Donovan. “Why can’t they use that area instead of blocking the view of the cars as they approach the street.”
Within the last three years Joe knows of at least two accidents at that intersection, thankfully neither of which were fatal.
However, close calls occur regularly, according to Donovan.
The construction site’s location blocks the field of vision of highway traffic that comes off I-95 at Exit 9 South, and then makes a left towards Longstreet Avenue.
Neighbors of the intersection, the staff at the Ice House Café, say they have witnessed vehicles speeding down Harding Avenue towards the dangerous intersection.
If a car comes off the ramp and inches out too far it could be crushed, they said.
Donovan spoke with a representative from the TBTA six months ago and was informed the current construction project would wrap up in September 2018.
However, it is unclear whether the constructionsite will be dismantled after that contract ends.
“We make it a priority to ensure that our operations don’t negatively impact the surrounding residential area and we will continue to work with the local community to address any concerns they may have,” said Christopher McKniff, TBTA spokesperson said.
This intersection has been a problem before.
Less than 10 years ago Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto got the NYS Department of Transportation, who have jurisdiction over some of the NYC highways and ramps, to redesign the Exit #9 off-ramp to eliminate the blind spots motorists faced getting onto the service road.
That project was completed at the end of 2010.