Pelham Pkway parking nightmare

FDNY ambulances get stuck along Pelham Parkway south service road waiting for a car to parallel park.
Photo courtesy of David Stevens

A bad situation may have just gotten worse for residents along Pelham Parkway South.

While locals await a judge’s decision on their suit to rip up an unwanted new mallside sidewalk that narrows their service road down to 26 feet, the city Department of Transportation will soon again allow parking on both sides of the road.

Locals have complained the narrowed service road creates a dangerous situation for firetrucks and other emergency vehicles trying to navigate through. Tower ladders, they charge, have no room to extend their stabilizers to keep them from tipping while trying to reach hi-rise floors, while firefighters can’t reach their equipment when compartment doors become wedged in from cars parked on both sides of the narrowed street.

A DOT spokesman said the agency will install ‘No Standing Anytime’ signage at intersections, known as daylighting, to allow fire rigs to make turns on to the service road.

And with buses returning to the main parkway road after almost a year during parkway reconstruction, “No Parking” signs will be removed along the service road from Williamsbridge Road to Wilson Avenue within the next week or two.

“The road is not getting any wider and the fire trucks are not getting any narrower,” said Dr. David Stevens, a local dentist with an office along the service road who has been leading the charge on the lawsuit against the city.

Stevens said there has already been an issue with ambulances getting stuck while traveling along the narrowed service road while cars try to parallel park.

“We don’t know yet if parking on both sides will cause a problem,” said John Fratta, assistant district manager of Community Board 11, which has also been active in the issue.

Craig Chin, spokesperson for the city Department of Design and Construction, said construction is substantially complete along the service road.

“Guardrail installation needs to be completed at some locations,” he said, “and street light work and tree planting will take place this spring.”

He declined to discuss the emergency vehicle issue when parking on both sides of the street resumes, but an FDNY spokesman said it will not cause a problem for fire trucks.

“With the daylighting rules still in place and the current parking restrictions in place, we are still able to navigate those streets,” he said. “There are a lot of narrow streets all over the city that have parking on both sides of the street that we can navigate through.”

But William Madonna, an attorney who is representing a number of local groups and individuals suing the city, disagreed, saying extra cars in addition to the new five-foot sidewalk will obviously narrow the street – “It’s quite apparent that if the roadway is even more narrow, then the response time of all of the emergency services will be further delayed, jeopardizing everyone involved.”

“I will be surprised if any emergency vehicle will be able to navigate this heavily populated area,” he said. “This is clearly the purpose of the lawsuit.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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