It looks like Community Board 10 is going to support at least part of a traffic-calming plan for East Tremont Avenue.
At the request of Westchester Square merchants, CB 10’s Municipal Services Committee voted on Tuesday, April 14 to approve a city Department of Transportation plan for traffic calming on East Tremont Avenue and surrounding streets near the Square.
However, the committee wants to go back to DOT to further discuss the part of the proposal calling for traffic calming along East Tremont Avenue between Lehman High School and Bruckner Boulevard.
In much of that area, the proposal calls for traffic to be reduced to one lane in each direction from two, with 14-foot wide turning bay lanes and flush median added to the center of the street, and four-foot wider parking lanes running the length of the avenue. There would also be expanded sidewalks at Whittemore and Purtian avenues.
“The committee reviewed the plan and had some reservations with respect to it, and decided to approve components of it instead of the whole plan,” said Ken Kearns, CB 10 district manager of Tuesday’s meeting.
Kearns said that the full board would likely discuss the proposal at its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 16.
The components approved by the committee, pending some changes proposed by Westchester Square merchants, include expanded large traffic islands both at Williamsbridge Road and Lane Avenue as well as several smaller new pedestrian islands and a number of new crosswalks. This is to provide more help to pedestrians trying to cross the wide intersections.
CB 10’s committee also voted to approve part of the proposal calling for making the Hutchinson River Parkway Service Road a one-way street running from Westchester to East Tremont avenues.
Traffic calming is needed for East Tremont Avenue because of a number of serious accidents, said Councilman James Vacca.
“The plan represents an outline that is a positive one,” he said. “I think we have to do something about East Tremont Avenue from the Square to Bruckner Boulevard.”
The councilman said the stretch of East Tremont Avenue between Waterbury Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard where there are a number of curves and blind spots is a major concern.
He also said there are also issues with speeding and double-parked cars.
“I think that we as a community have to look at this as a way to calm traffic and reduce speed,” he said, adding that he is open to addressing community concerns about the proposal.
According to state DOT statistics presented to CB 10, over a five-year period from 2009 to 2013, there were 59 pedestrian injuries and 10 bicycle injuries along the entire length of the corridor, as well as 21 accidents that were severe or fatal.
Andrew Chirico, a Waterbury LaSalle Community Association board member, is one of several voices who feels that the plan may slow traffic along East Tremont Avenue too much. Several board members expressed similar sentiments.
At the meeting, Steve Kaufman, Throggs Neck Merchants Association president, called for a public hearing on the portion of the plan that extends through Waterbury-LaSalle.
“I know many people want to make the streets safer, so do I, but this is not the way to do it,” he said.