Possible killer corner to be studied by DOT again

Crossing Wilkinson and Westchester avenues can be challenging because of the width of the intersection. For motorists, the elevated subway and theshape of the intersection can make turning left northbound troublesome.

Accidents are piling up at a Pelham Bay intersection, making pedestrians potential bowling pins.

Several accidents – and near misses – have happened recently at the corner of Wilkinson and Westchester avenues, and Community Board 10 has once again called for safetly measures that could include a raised traffic island for pedestrians in a triangle-shaped space at the crosswalk.

Data released through a Freedom of Information Act request by Senator Jeff Klein to the state Department of Motor Vehicles shows five vehicle accidents, one of them involving a pedestrian hit, between July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2011.

“We have had a lot of accidents, and cars are up on the sidewalk almost all the time,” said past Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association president Ed Romeo, co-owner of the nearby Lasting Impressions photography studio.

“We need to create a better pedestrian crossing at the location. A raised concrete traffic island would allow people to see the entire intersection and give them some breathing room,” he said.

He noted that there are often double-parked cars on the street which makes seeing other cars coming while crossing even more difficult.

At CB 10’s request, the city Department of Transportation has agreed to conduct a new study for adding possible safety measures, said district manager Kenneth Kearns.

“About four years ago, we asked for a traffic light at Westchester and Wilkinson avenues, and we were told that it did not meet federal guidelines,” Kearns said. “We believe that it is warranted because of the traffic coming out of Key Food and because of the curvy nature of the road. It should enhance the safety of drivers in general, and that of pedestrians.”

Several requests for studies and traffic lights have previously been made by Senator Klein and Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

“After our request for a street light was denied last year, I asked the department if any other pedestrian safety measures could be undertaken and I have been notified they are still examining these options,” said Klein.

The wide left turn is a problem for motorists headed northbound on Westchester Avenue, Councilman Vacca said. Vacca had also requested a traffic light one block south of the intersection, at Sands Place and Westchester Avenue.

“I requested some studies at Wilkinson Avenue, and also one at Sands Place because I thought it would help people who wanted to cross to go to Key Food, but would also serve to slow down northbound traffic before it gets to the Wilkinson Avenue intersection,” Vacca said.

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