Pelham Bay residents got to sound off on a controversial reversal of the direction of traffic on St. Paul Avenue. The hearing took place before Community Board 10 at the Greek American Institute.
About 50 residents testified before CB 10’s municipal services committee on Tuesday, February 23 about the reversal of one block of St. Paul Avenue between Pelham Parkway South and E. 196th Street. Its direction was changed on April 24, 2006.
The hearing included 30 people who testified in favor of reversing the direction of the block back to its original direction, allowing cars exiting the parkway to use St. Paul Avenue to reach Westchester Avenue without going through Burr Avenue. The current traffic setup of St. Paul Avenue prevents through traffic.
“[St. Paul Avenue] is not a shortcut to Westchester Avenue,” Frank Tranchese, of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association, testified. “It is a street that the [Department of Transportation] designed it to be – a street going towards Westchester Avenue.”
Tranchese and others from PBTCA including Anita Valenti and Ed Romeo all said that the burden of traffic has merely been shifted to surrounding blocks, especially Burr Avenue, which receives all traffic exiting from Pelham Parkway in Pelham Bay.
St. Paul Avenue residents spoke with fervor for the status quo, saying that reversing the street to run one-way towards E. 196th Street would jeopardize pedestrian safety and provide a shortcut for motorists tryng to bypass Pelham Bay Station.
“[One of the biggest criticisms] is that there are three streets running in the same direction towards Pelham Parkway South – Colonial, Continental, and St. Paul avenues,” said Patrick Stranzl, a St. Paul Avenue resident. “Near Westchester Square, there are also three streets in a row running in one direction to divert traffic around residential areas.”
Both sides agreed that new development in and around Pelham Bay played some role in increasing traffic that made the residents of St. Paul Avenue seek relief in the first place.
CB 10 member Andrew Chirico gave his own view on what the recommendation of the board to DOT should be during the next full-board meeting on Thursday, March 18 at 2870 Schurz Avenue. “The overall congestion in the Pelham Bay area is overwhelming,” said Chirico. “We need relief from the congestion. Burr Avenue is too small a street to carry all the traffic coming off the parkway.”