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Speed humps to thwart dragsters

Maspeth-area City Council members celebrated Tuesday the installation of three new speed humps along Maurice Avenue between Tyler Avenue and 53rd Avenue. The city Department of Transportation installed the speed humps because legislators and nearby residents had demanded speed control measures along Maurice Avenue in November due to the constant drag racing in the area.

“This is over,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “The races have ended.”

Van Bramer, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Councilman Jimmy Vacca (D-Bronx) and members of the community said the speed humps would improve the quality of life for the area.

“Now drag racing will no longer happen here on Maurice Avenue,” Crowley said. Crowley and Van Bramer’s districts both encompass a part of the avenue.

A resident of Maurice Avenue, Madeline O’Boyle had said at the November protest that drag racing had been a weekly occurrence on the avenue during hot weather, drawing not only dangerous speeders but also a crowd of spectators.

Roe Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, said the racing created disturbances beyond the street.

“I live a quarter of a mile away and I can hear the drag racing,” Daraio said.

City DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan said the problem had been brought to the DOT’s attention after the November protest. After an investigation, the speed humps were installed last week. They are interspersed along Maurice Avenue between Tyler Avenue and the signal light at 53rd Drive, and have signs posted nearby alerting drivers to their presence.

The commissioner said the DOT was on track to install 102 speed humps throughout the city this fiscal year and has a goal of creating 160 speed humps throughout the city.

“The last four years have been the safest in the city’s history, thanks to the steps that we made,” Sadik-Khan said.

Vacca, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said the speed humps will be the key to slowing down drivers.

“When you look at what this block is now and what the block was before, it’s a day-and-night difference,” Vacca said.

Crowley, who described Maspeth as a small town in a big city, said the area has been plagued by increasing traffic problems while the city as a whole has seen traffic improvements. Yet she praised the department for all it had done for the community, including the implementation of no truck roads and its ongoing work on the Maspeth Bypass Plan.

“We’re here today to thank the DOT,” she said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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