On Monday, they finally received welcome news. Councilman Costa Constantinides, Assemblyman Brian Barnwell and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that the intersection of 30th Avenue and Hobart Street will get a new traffic light at the end of the year.
“Thirty-five years of writing letters and making calls are finally over,” Constantinides said.
The traffic light will be the finishing touch to an assortment of traffic-calming measures in the area, including extending the concrete curb at the intersection, realigning and narrowing moving lanes along Hobart Avenue and making crossings ADA-compliant with pedestrian ramps.
DOT also installed a large concrete triangle at the tip of Strippoli Square, and painted a large triangle section at Hobart and 51st streets.
Constantinides said these measures will go a long way to make Hobart Street feel “less like a highway and more like a street.”
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, a lifelong resident of Boulevard Gardens, said this issue has been around since he was a kid.
Over the years, the city installed both a four-way stop sign and a flashing red light, none of which slowed drivers.
“A lot of drivers take their own liberties as to what it means,” Constantinides said about the flashing red light. “There were lots of different interpretations.”
Barnwell added that the project will also yield 25 additional parking spots for residents, which is a “win-win-win for everyone involved.”
“No longer will people have to cross the street to get a carton of milk and worry about their safety,” he said.
The news of the traffic light is especially welcome for residents like Jackie Ibarra, whose daughter was nearly struck by a car at the Woodside intersection in January 2018.
Ibarra recalled getting a phone call that day from her daughter’s babysitter, who told her that they “were almost in an accident.”
“Two cars were speeding on 54th Street and one tried to pass the other,” Ibarra was told by the babysitter. “They were just about to cross the street, but stopped just in time.
“All I could feel was my heart beating inside my chest as I realized that if my babysitter had not made a real-time decision to stop at this corner, my child would’ve been hit by a car,” she added.
The Woodside resident said that there have been countless times cars did not yield to pedestrians, or when she and her neighbors had close calls.
“Pedestrian safety is a real need in this neighborhood,” Ibarra said. “We cannot simply wait for another tragedy to happen on this corner in order for us to take action.”