The changes were supposed to make the area safer. Instead, some residents believe they the made the intersection of Kappock Street and Knolls Crescent more dangerous.
The city’s transportation department synced traffic lights in the two northbound lanes over the summer as well as expanding and adding hedges to a lane divider. Officials even put in additional crosswalks.
DOT was trying to correct what it told members of Community Board 8 last year was a wide, irregular intersection as well as “conflicts” between vehicles turning right onto Knolls Crescent from the Henry Hudson Parkway exit and Kappock.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Manny Grossman, who lives in the area. “The engineering team at (the transportation department) made a bad problem even worse, and it’s shocking this was allowed to happen.”
The timing of the green lights, Grossman said, are timed to force cars turning onto Knolls Crescent to cross in front of not only oncoming traffic but cars going the same direction.
“I’ve personally witnessed two near T-bone accidents because of it,” he added.
Grossman would like to see the running times of the northbound traffic lights staggered so drivers have time to alert each other and react before making a left turn at the intersection onto Knolls Crescent.
The changes have created a sense of confusion with drivers, forcing them to use their horns more often to warn pedestrians and other cars, he added, leading to more noise in the neighborhood.
“In my three years of living here, I have never seen these problems as bad as they are now,” Grossman said.
Carolyn Saylor, who grew up in the area and is dating Grossman, said she saw a “frustrated” driver yelling, “I don’t know where to go,” asking people at the Knolls Crescent bus stop for directions.
Additionally, the hedges along the lane divider located on the northbound side of Kappock Street are too tall, Grossman said. The triangular-shaped divider separates the two lanes.
“I can’t see over the plants,” Grossman said, as he scrunched down mimicking the height of a driver while standing on the sidewalk. “So, how do I know if a car is coming up at a high rate of speed? I can’t even see that out of my peripheral vision.”
Another resident, Deborah Wallace, says crossing Netherland Avenue on the East side of Kappock is only possible if pedestrians take a “roundabout route.”
“Most people say ‘phooey,’” she said. “They just cross where there is no crosswalk and cross their fingers as they cross the street so they don’t get hit.“
The changes were to help pedestrians feel safer as they crossed in this area, Wallace said, because drivers routinely run the red lights. But it has not helped.
Now, the transportation department’s changes make something similar likely to happen again, Wallace said.
If changes are coming, it won’t be anytime soon. Alana Morales, a spokeswoman for the city’s transportation department, told The Riverdale Press in a written statement officials are “currently monitoring” issues at the intersection, and will “make any necessary adjustments if needed.”
Residents say changes should be done right away and want the transportation department to take another look at the intersection. Too many small adjustments in the area may add up to big problems.
“These things should be addressed when they do these redos,” Grossman said. “They are not thinking of the little details. I am calling for (the transportation department) to come back and rectify their mistakes before a tragedy occurs.”