Residents demand traffic light at dangerous intersection

(l-r) Raphael Schweizer, BPECA chairman; Councilman Torres and Bernadette Ferrara, VNNA president expressed their concerns about the intersection of Morris Park Avenue and Melville Street.
Photo by Edwin Soto

A busy intersection in Van Nest has community leaders demanding change.

On Friday, February 8, Councilman Ritchie Torres joined the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance and residents at the corner of Morris Park Avenue and Melville Street to demand the installation of a traffic light or other potential traffic calming measures at the intersection.

For years, Van Nest residents have expressed concerns that the intersection is dangerous for drivers attempting to turn left or right onto Morris Park Avenue from Melville Street where oncoming traffic is often blocked by parked cars.

Torres and residents are requesting that the NYC Department of Transportation conduct an immediate study for a traffic light at the intersection.

The DOT has reported approximately 10 injuries at the intersection of Morris Park Avenue and Melville Street between 2010 to 2014.

“Public safety is not something the community should have to get on its knees and beg for,” the councilman stated.

Torres added that there have been approximately 53 injuries in intersections encompassing Morris Park Avenue.

Linda White, Van Nest resident and Community Board 11 member, witnessed a two-car collision at the intersection in early December 2018.

According to White, she was taking a cab traveling from Melville Street to Morris Park Avenue.

A car that was behind her cab on Melville Street attempted to turn left onto Morris Park Avenue, but was struck by another car traveling south.

No injuries were reported, however both vehicles sustained damage from the collision.

White noted the intersection experiences congestion during weekday mornings and evenings which make travel difficult for motorists and pedestrians.

She expressed concerns that the one and a half mile DOT traffic calming and safety project approved over community objections which will have two travel lanes in either direction reduced to one from Melville Street to Newport Avenue will only add to the intersection’s issues.

Bernadette Ferrara, VNNA president, said that people have called 311 and CB 11 regarding the problematic intersection.

Jeremy Warneke, CB 11 district manager, confirmed that the board has made multiple requests to DOT about the intersection.

“As a motorist, I’ve sat at that intersection for a long time just waiting to turn left onto Morris Park Avenue from Melville Street,” Ferrara explained. “I really hope DOT will install this traffic light soon because road dieting is not going to help this situation.”

Ferrara confirmed that oncoming traffic is blocked by cars parked along Morris Park Avenue making it difficult for motorists to determine if it’s safe to turn.

She also noted the lack of crosswalks at this intersection present risks for pedestrians.

A DOT spokeswoman confirmed that the department received Torres’ request for a traffic light at the intersection and is evaluating its feasibility.

She said there were no traffic fatalities at the intersection since 2001, however there have been two injuries in 2017 and one in 2015 reported at this specific location.

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