A traffic control that’s been on the wish list of community advocates for more than a decade has finally come to fruition.
The NYC Department of Transportation installed a new traffic signal at the corner of Wallace and Morris Park avenues, becoming operational after several years of community concern about pedestrian safety, especially among the elderly and the young.
According to an activist who advocated for the change, Katherine Torres, the signal became operational during the third week in March.
A DOT spokeswoman confirmed the starting date as Friday, March 23.
“I joked that I would love to christen the traffic signal the way they do with a ship, like break a bottle of champagne over it,” said Torres. “It cost one life and 13 years of heartache to put this together and here it is.”
Torres said she has been advocating for the change since 2005, and that elderly people and children in her community who cross Morris Park Avenue to access Matthews Muliner Playground and shop should be able to cross more safely at the corner because of the change.
The large number of elderly people in her community, including neighbors of her block that are in their 90s and navigate the crossing often, were encountering safety because they walk slower.
“My father-in-law goes to Pioneer every day for fresh bread and you have play Frogger to do it,” said Torres, referencing a video game where a frog crosses a traffic-clogged road with the player’s objective of keeping the frog from being hit.
The DOT spokeswoman stated that following the community request, the agency used ‘nationally recognized traffic engineering safety standards for traffic controls’ and determined that a signal at the corner was feasible.
Torres said that a motorist making a U-turn took the life of someone on the street near the intersection some time ago.
The installation date had originally been scheduled for the end of June 2017, according to a previous Bronx Times report.
Jeremy Warneke, Community Board 11 district manager, said that Con Edison work in the vicinity delayed the installation, and that he was persistent in advocating with the DOT for the activation of the signal at the earliest possible time.
Warneke said that anyone can request a traffic study by calling 311 or they can contact their local community board.
Al D’Angleo, Morris Park Community Association president, said that the reaction to the traffic signal was favorable.
“The feedback that I am getting is very positive,” said D’Angelo of the new traffic signal. “People felt it was necessary and something that was needed.”
The association president said that the community is concerned about another traffic issue that could affect Morris Park Avenue: a DOT proposal to install bicycle lanes on the busy roadway, which he believed would produce unfavorable results.