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Big Six wants bus restored

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) stands with Big Six Towers children who go to PS 229 and their parents to protest the DOE's elimination of bus service across the intersection of 61st Street and Laurel Hill Boulevard. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) held a rally last Thursday with Big Six Towers residents protesting the lack of bus service for children of the Woodside apartment complex to PS 229.

The councilman and others say this decision, made in 2010, has forced students in Grades 3 to 6 to walk across Laurel Hill Boulevard and 61st Street, which the adults characterize as a dangerous intersection where multiple accidents have occurred.

“I am as outraged today as I was the day they announced it,” Van Bramer said.

PS 229, at 67-25 51st Road, is on the Woodside and Maspeth border, less than a mile away from Big Six at Queens Boulevard and 61st Street, which makes it ineligible for bus service.

But the quickest way to get to the school is through an intersection of the north side of Laurel Hill Boulevard, the east and west sides of 61st Street north of the boulevard and where 61st Street becomes a two-way street beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Big Six residents once had a waiver for bus service, but city Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said all school-wide waivers have been done away with, although parents can request them individually for their children.

“We conducted a thorough review as a result of eliminating the school-wide waiver,” Feinberg said. “The review determined that the intersection over which concern has been expressed has both a traffic signal and a sidewalk along the underpass.”

Yet residents say the spot can be scary to navigate, especially for a child. Tom Haggerty, a member of Big Six’s board of directors, said the intersection was cited as being dangerous 45 years ago and has not changed since then. He said 15 children are also already able to take the bus to PS 229 in the morning.

“Please put the kids on the bus,” Haggerty said. “It’s as simple as that. No money needs to be expended here.”

Van Bramer said he was calling on the DOE to reconsider the decision in light of the accidents that have occurred at the intersection.

“We cannot wait until a child is hurt,” he said.

Residents said they had witnessed bad accidents and been in some of them themselves. Kathy Lally said residents’ cars parked on the northwest corner have sustained damage from collisions.

“It’s very dangerous,” Lally said. “I saw an accident over here a couple of weeks ago.”

Doris Stroman, who has a 6-year-old and a 14-year-old, said she was once in an accident at the intersection while driving with her children. She was driving her minivan when an 18-wheeler blew the red light and hit her.

“I’m still suffering the ill effects,” she said. “It’s terrible.”

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

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