Morris Park ‘speedway of death’ getting traffic light

Morris Park ‘speedway of death’ getting traffic light
Photo by Ben Kochman

A Morris Park residential strip will no longer double as a speedway.

Motorists blazing toward a dicey neighborhood corner where two locals were mowed down within a month will now have to either slow down —or run a red light.

Neill Avenue, a residential stretch locals have long griped has been used as a racetrack, will finally get a needed traffic light this summer, the Department of Transportation (DOT) confirmed in a letter to local elected officials on Mar. 11.

Morris Park ‘raceway’

The city will install the stoplight on Neill and Tomlinson Avenues by the end of July, DOT said. That spells good news for locals fed up with cars whizzing by.

“It’s a total horror over there,” said Louise Alzano, who has lived steps from the corner of Neill and Tomlinson for 44 years. “The skies have parted. Thank God.”

Nabe activists have pressed the city for a light for years. But the fight picked up steam when two Bronxites were killed after being struck by cars at Neill and Williamsbridge Road, one block east from where the traffic signal is coming in.

Corner turns deadly

Albert Marku, 40, was struck by a car and killed at that corner on Dec. 22, 2013 while riding his motorcycle. A month earlier, on Thanksgiving Eve, a driver turning left from Neill onto Williamsbridge struck 55-year-old Maria Lucaj steps away from her home. She died days later at Jacobi Hospital.

“We don’t want drivers to pick up a head of steam as they head into that intersection,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, a long time champion of traffic slowdowns. “This is a win-win for residents.”

Another local official who fielded complaints about the speeding strip, State Sen. Jeff Klein, said he wished DOT would have taken action before all of the recent carnage.

“Unfortunately, it took a history of complaints and the tragic death of Maria Lucaj to bring a traffic light to this dangerous intersection,” said Klein.

Enforcing a neighborhood issue

Locals had long claimed that motorists use Neill Avenue as a shortcut. The stretch currently has just one stoplight between Bronxdale and Williamsbridge Avenues, while nearby Rheinlander and Morris Park Avenues have many traffic signals.

“They speed, they cut people off, they race to the red light [on Williamsbridge],” Joe Reda, a local who has chaired Community Board 11’s public safety committee for decades, told the Times-Reporter in January.

Police at the 49 Precinct have ramped up enforcement at the deadly corner, doling out over 300 summonses for speeding and moving violations since last summer. Officers have added 78 moving infractions at the corner in 2014, said Deputy Inspector Andy Johnson.

That number should sink with the new traffic light, Johnson said —but cops will still be on alert.

“Hopefully the enforcement will go down,” he said. “But I’ll still have my personnel out there.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail her at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.