Today’s news:

Residents urge the city to fix Sandhill Road

Little Neck residents sent a letter to city Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy last week in which they called on her to change a recent traffic pattern implemented by the city in their neighborhood which they said has frustrated residents and could be potentially dangerous for drivers.

City transportation officials in mid-October added a cement median at the intersection of Little Neck Parkway and 39th Avenue, otherwise known as Sandhill Road, which has made it nearly impossible for drivers going northbound to make a left-hand turn onto Sandhill, Westmoreland Association President Walter Mugdan said.

Because of the median, drivers who want to turn onto Sandhill have to drive past the median on Little Neck Parkway and make a three-point U-turn, which Mugdan said can create traffic jams.

“It’s very aggravating and possibly unsafe,” Mugdan said.

City officials have told area residents they added the median in order to deter drivers from making the left-hand turn onto Sandhill because they were concerned a car could potentially get stuck on the railroad tracks while attempting to make the turn onto Sandhill. Sandhill is a one-lane, two-way street, which means a car making a left-hand turn could potentially have to stop on the tracks while waiting for another car to exit Sandhill. There has never been an accident involving a train and a car at the site, however, Mugdan noted.

A DOT spokesman too said city officials at the same time as they put in the median installed flexible bollards and added new signage to direct motorists through the area. The spokesman added the DOT will continue to monitor the area and make adjustments as needed.

The median also has made passage through the area more cumbersome for emergency vehicles and leads to congested roadways, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said.

“It creates a safety hazard for our public safety vehicles,” Halloran said. “It creates a bottleneck. [State] Sen. Frank Padavan [R-Bellerose] and I have made recommendations they didn’t need to put the island in.”

Halloran said the DOT sent him a letter saying officials are re-evaluating the traffic pattern.

Mugdan and fellow members of his homeowners association suggested in their letter to McCarthy last week that instead of the median, signs could be installed on the south side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks that require all northbound vehicles to come to a full stop before crossing the tracks. Additionally, a stop sign could be installed a few yards further south at the intersection of Little Neck Parkway and 39th Road so drivers would be forced to stop before the tracks and then again when they arrived at the tracks.

Mugdan said he and other residents have also asked that the city DOT change its procedure when it does something like change the traffic pattern in their neighborhood, which he said was done without any communication with area residents or the community board.

“We believe it is essential that you hold a public meeting in the community to hear firsthand about residents’ concerns, and to consider whether and how to redesign the traffic pattern at this location in a way that better addresses the needs of the residents while adequately addressing safety issues,” Mugdan wrote in the letter.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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