Squeeze play on Pelham Parkway service road reignite safety concerns

Truck driver tries to figure out a way through along Pelham Parkway South service road after being hemmed in, with controversial four-foot wide sidewalk on park side no help.
By Dr. David Stevens

This time it was two trucks that couldn’t get through.

But protestors over a narrowed service road on Pelham Parkway South’s service road say next time it could be a firetruck.

Despite community protests over potentially blocked emergency vehicles, the city built a four-foot wide sidewalk on the park side of the road in 2012.

With winter snow and ice making it even narrower, two large delivery trucks found themselves blocked in between Williamsbridge Road and Jacobi Medical Center on Friday, Feb. 14 because they could not squeeze past two illegally parked cars on each side of the road near Narragansett Avenue.

Community Board 11’s John Fratta, its administrative manager who is overseeing the parkway reconstruction for the board, said that snow and ice exacerbated the problem because drivers could not park cars right up against the curb.

“This just reinforces what we have said over and over again with DDC (Department of Design and Construction), that placing that sidewalk there and narrowing the roadway is dangerous and could become a nightmare,” he said.

“The bottom line is if a firetruck had to get through in a situation like we had Friday, the firetruck would not get through. That has been our bone of contention since Day One when those sidewalks were installed.”

At the scene on Friday, truck driver Frank Reynolds, 51, with about 20 years experience, said the two illegally parked cars made it difficult for him to proceed.

“I don’t want to risk it, and the police officer here told me not to risk it,” he said as he sat parked on the street. “I would have stopped on my own.”

Reynolds said he was concerned that the edges of steps on the side of his rig would hit the cars.

Another stuck truck driver, Benjamin Soto, who said he was delivering supplies to Jacobi, had to back up several blocks to Williamsbridge Road.

Dr. David Stevens, a dentist whose practice is along Pelham Parkway South, filed a since dismissed legal challenge to get the city to dismantle sidewalk. He again voiced his concerns about the roadway.

“It is a horrible road,” he said, “There is no wiggle room here.”

Fratta said that further legal action could become a possibility if emergency vehicles are blocked from getting to the scene of an emergency and people are injured.

The only acceptable solution to the problem, he said, is to remove the sidewalk completely.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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