St. Paul Avenue gets direction reversed

The direction of St. Paul Avenue was reversed to the elation of some Pelham Bay residents and the displeasure of others.

New signage has been placed by the city Department of Transportation, and the city also installed a speed hump, in the middle of the block, between Pelham Parkway South and East 196th Street.

The street was reversed on Wednesday, June 1. Four signs were also placed at the corner of East 196th Street alerting motorists to the fact that they can no longer make a turn onto St. Paul Avenue to reach Pelham Parkway South.

The block had been reversed from a southbound direction to a northbound direction in 2006 to divert traffic during construction of an on-ramp to North I-95 at Pelham Parkway. The construction sent an inordinate amount of traffic down the street as a shortcut to I-95.

The fight to re-reverse the direction was led by a newly revitalized Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association. After a public hearing on February 23, 2010 and a unanimous vote by Community Board 10 in November 2010 requesting that DOT reverse make the change, DOT completed the reversal.

“There were three streets all going in the same direction,” said Anita Valenti of the PBTCA. “The Pelham Bay Taxpayers had become dormant and we went to Mike Crescenzo and got his blessing to revitalize the organization so that we could fight for this change.”

The reversal of the street put too much of a traffic burden on Burr Avenue, which then became the only route for cars exiting Pelham Parkway to access Pelham Bay Station, Valenti contends.

Bob Bieder, who was on the board when it voted to approve the change in direction originally in 2005 and then again in 2010, said that he hopes that the installation of the speed hump and signage will bring some closure to a debate that has been heated. Residents of St. Paul Avenue had adamantly opposed the re-reversal, while many on surrounding blocks supported it.

“It is nice to have this finally behind us, and hopefully the speed hump and the signage will address the safety issues of the people on St. Paul Avenue,” Bieder said. “Of course, you can never please everyone and there were two divergent opinions here.”

One of the many St. Paul Avenue residents who was displeased with the outcome was Joe Bellini, who said that the speed hump that was installed does not slow down traffic enough, and that there have already been a number of close calls in terms of accidents.

“Politics should not trump safety,” Bellini said. “It is all going to start again and we just hope and pray that no one gets hurt or killed.”

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