DOT nixes left-turn signals on problematic streets


Irate drivers sitting in traffic. Extended waits to make a left-turn. Near-car accidents.

They won’t end anytime soon.

The city’s transportation department put the kibosh on left-turn signals at West 256th Street and Riverdale Avenue as well as West 231st Street and Riverdale Avenue — a decision that did not sit well with local leaders.

Instead, according to DOT spokeswoman Lolita Avila, signal time at those lights were lengthened.

“If they did anything with the timing of those lights, it had no effect,” said Daniel Padernacht, chair of Community Board 8’s traffic and transportation committee, who learned about DOT’s decision not from the agency, but instead from The Riverdale Press.

He’s not sure what the next steps will be, but Padernacht said he definitely plans to discuss the issue with his committee at its next meeting.

“This is a dangerous corner, especially in the morning and afternoon when children are entering and leaving P.S. 81,” said Barbara Connolly, president of the Riverdale Gardens Tenants Association, which has 10 buildings and more than 400 residents near the troubled areas.

“There is a delayed green (light) at the intersection of 254th Street and Riverdale Avenue, and it has helped. Our corner handles just as much traffic — even more with cars, buses and trucks turning west to The Riverdale Y, Skyview apartments, Netherland Gardens, Riverdale Gardens and four parking garages.”
Connolly’s group has been trying to get a delayed green or left turn signal added since 2014.

“It’s mystifying,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. “It seems to be a very simple fix.”

Dinowitz has long been a supporter of efforts to add a light, believing the only way to clear out the northbound left-turning lane, is to give those vehicles their own signal.

DOT did study the possibility of adding a left turn signal at West 231st and Riverdale last month. But once it was over, Avila said her department determined the existing setup was “the most ideal” to handle left turns there.

“Going down the hill towards 231st Street, there is a left-turn only lane, but the cars have to wait through all of the northbound traffic on Riverdale Avenue,” Dinowitz said. “As a result, you sometimes you also have to wait three changes of the light.”

This leads to drivers finding unsafe ways to move through the light.

“Some cars will go into the right lane and make the left turn around all the cars waiting legitimately in the left lane,” Dinowitz said.

Despite DOT’s rejection, Dinowitz said he wasn’t going to give up.

Installing left-turn signals, he added, “will go a long way toward making those two intersections safer and less unpleasant for people.”