Today’s news:

Avella seeks traffic signal at 19th Ave. and Utopia Pkwy.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) slammed the city Department of Transportation last week for denying his request for the installation of a traffic signal at an intersection on the border of Bayside and Whitestone that has been the site of numerous accidents.

Avella said there have been multiple accidents in recent years at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Utopia Parkway, located along the border of Bayside and Whitestone. But he said the DOT has repeatedly decided against putting up a traffic signal at the site, the councilman said.

“Time and time again, there have been accidents at this location, demonstrating the need for additional traffic controls,” Avella said. “It is completely unacceptable for the DOT to continue to ignore numerous requests from myself and the community for an all−way−stop or traffic signal, which would truly safeguard the lives of motorists, pedestrians and residents of this community.”

A spokeswoman for Avella said the DOT rejected the councilman’s latest request on Jan. 16. She said the most recent accident at the site took place in August, when a driver crashed into an apartment building at the corner of the intersection. She said the driver suffered minor injuries.

A DOT spokeswoman said the intersection did not meet federal regulation standards for the installation of a traffic signal, but that the agency has narrowed driving lanes on Utopia Parkway in an effort to increase safety along the roadway. She said there have been no fatalities at the site during the past five years and only two reported accidents that produced more than $1,000 in damages. She said there have been about three crashes per year for the past five years at the intersection.

Avella said the city uses federal DOT standards when it comes to analyzing accidents, using the same criteria for states like Wyoming and Idaho.

“New York City is extremely large and experiences a lot more traffic than your average city and, as a result, should apply our own traffic control standards.”

In 2002, the councilman introduced two bills that would require the city’s DOT to create its own standards for accidents based on traffic situations in the five boroughs. He reintroduced the proposed legislation in 2006 and amended it to require insurance companies to provide the DOT with statistics for all motor vehicle accidents on city streets and highways.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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