Traffic crackdown in Hunts Point

Community Board 2 Rafael Salamanca Jr. has had it with wild traffic at intersections under the Bruckner Expressway.
Photo by Ben Kochman

One car-clogged South Bronx neighborhood is putting the new Mayor’s traffic safety mandate into the next gear.

Hunt’s Point’s Community Board 2 and the 41 Precinct have launched a “Traffic Task Force” to help tackle the car crashes and pedestrian safety issues that have marred the nabe for decades.

Officers are doling out traffic summonses for speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians at unprecedented levels, officials said.

Meanwhile, Board 2 is launching an educational poster contest at local schools, with plans to hang the winning art at traffic trouble spots.

The Task Force is also working with the Department of Transportation to brainstorm engineering changes at the neighborhood ‘s collision hubs.

Mayor Bill mandate

“We don’t only work here, we live here, and we know what the problems are through years of experience,” said Rafael Salamanca Jr, a longtime local who is now CB2’s district manager. “This is something we need to address right now.”

Traffic safety is also something that Mayor deBlasio and new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have prioritized since taking office in January. The new administration has embraced so-called “Vision Zero,” the idea of ridding the city of all traffic deaths, and promised to do so by 2024.

Big time enforcement

Local leaders in Hunt’s Point are taking an approach that starts with police ramping up traffic enforcement.

Through the end of February, the Four-One had given out 148 summonses for speeding —up 57% from this time in 2013—and 57 summonses for not yielding to pedestrians, up from a mere 1 through the first two months last year, according to stats provided by the precinct.

“We’ve received our marching orders, and we know we need to go after this aggressively,” said Deputy Inspector Phillip Rivera, the Four-One’s commanding officer.

The Task Force is still in its early stages, but has already identified a few of the nabe’s most dangerous corners. Ringing in at worst, they say, is Hunt’s Point Avenue and Bruckner Blvd., underneath the Bruckner Expressway.

Other problem spots include Southern Boulevard at E. 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue, and Bruckner Boulevard at Longwood Avenue —right next to the 41 Precinct.

Working with DOT

“It’s horrible over here,” said Salamanca on a recent Thursday afternoon when the Times-Reporter swung by that trouble corner during rush hour.

Cars making a left turn from Bruckner onto Longwood were dangling in the middle of the street, gauging whether to roll the dice and make a turn in time to beat oncoming traffic.

Salamanca thinks that issue could be shored up by DOT installing a left-turn-only signal at the site.

Calling in the kids

And if all that doesn’t work, they’ll bring in the real juice to get the word out on traffic safety —local school kids.

The Four-One will soon choose the winners of its traffic safety poster contest run through local schools. The winning safety art will then be laminated and displayed at the nabe’s collision hotspots, to remind pedestrians and motorists alike of the dangers at hand.

“The education component has been lacking,” Rivera said. “But we cannot do this without the community knowing about it, and chipping in.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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