Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz along with his colleagues Congressman Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, Council Member Andrew Cohen stood today at the intersection of Heath Avenue and Ft. Independence Street to bring attention to dangerous conditions at the intersection and to highlight Ft. Independence’s lack of adequate pedestrian safety measures. Deputy Inspector O’Toole and Detective Mindy Ramos from the Bronx’s 50th Precinct were also present at the event.
Parents and students walking across the intersection to P.S. 360 must deal with unsafe traffic conditions and drivers must take precautions to be wary of pedestrians.
Currently, a stop sign is located on the east side of Heath Avenue for northbound traffic right before Heath Avenue intersects with Fort Independence Street. There is also a yield sign on the west side of Fort Independence Street for southbound traffic right before Fort Independence Street turn into Heath Avenue. Even with the yield sign and stop sign, the three way y shaped intersection at Heath Avenue and Fort Independence remains dangerous. Vehicles that travel west on Fort Independence Street and want to make a left on Heath need to account and stop for oncoming southbound traffic from Fort Independence. As a result, the normal flow of westbound traffic on Fort Independence Street is blocked.
The current three way y-shaped intersection should be replaced with a three way traffic light or an all-way stop sign.
These unsafe conditions also do nothing to alleviate speeding cars on Ft. Independence, which pedestrians, most notably children, must deal with when attempting to cross the street on the way to school or to the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center which hosts several after school programs.
After repeated requests for a review of traffic conditions by Assemblyman Dinowitz, the Department of Transportation DOT agreed to conduct a twelve week traffic study in September of 2016. However DOT officials have not released the results of the study, or whether they plan to make changes to the intersection, and have stated that they will not release the results until March 2017.
“We shouldn’t wait for accidents and collisions to happen to do something about this intersection. We mustn’t put our safety and the safety of our children at risk at this dangerous location. Safety improvement should have been here long ago,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.
“Street safety is a top priority and impacts all of us,” said U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “For too long, the pedestrians and young school children who cross Fort Independence Street have taken risks when attempting to cross as there are no proper pedestrian crossings. This is unacceptable and I am pleased to join in support of today’s call for immediate action to ensure that no lives are further put at risk and endangered at busy intersections in our community.”
“The stretch of Fort Independence Street from Heath Avenue to Giles Place is a treacherous route for both pedestrians and drivers alike. With PS 360 nearby, two bus lines and numerous intersections without enough crosswalks or traffic lights, anyone who travels through the area is jeopardizing their safety. I’m hopeful that the DOT will reason with the concerns of my community members and colleagues by implementing the proper safety measures,” said State Senator Jeff Klein.
“Today we are calling on the Department of Transportation to take action and make adequate traffic changes to the Fort Independence corridor, including installing a traffic signal at the corner of Heath and Fort Independence," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "These changes will not only alleviate the current traffic issues in the area, but more importantly it will ensure that pedestrians, especially the children attending public school 360, are no longer subjected to perilous traffic conditions."
“This intersection is used by many seniors and children on their way to school on a daily basis,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. With the volume of buses, cars and trucks sharing the route, we absolutely must do something to make it safer for our most vulnerable residents trying to cross safely. A traffic control device at this spot is something I completely support.”
Dan Padernacht, Chair of Bronx Community Board 8, stated "The Y-shaped intersection at Fort Independence Street and Heath Avenue confuses many drivers and does not provide a safe means for pedestrians to cross. We ask that the engineers at DOT take another look at this intersection to investigate possible changes to make it safer to navigate."