Talk about a long wait for a stoplight.
Williamsburg residents rejoiced when the city installed a traffic light at the intersection of Woodpoint Road and Withers Street last week — 22 years after neighbors first requested it.
“We’re really excited, we’ve been fighting for an extra light,” said Community Board 1 member Tish Cianciotta. “We’re meeting people in the street, and they’re saying ‘Thank god!’ ”
Cianciotta, her husband, Guido, and members of the Withers Street Block Association started pestering the city to slow motorists at the busy corner in 1992 — but officials swatted down their requests, nixing a 2008 push for traffic calming measures even though a police cadet died in a motorcycle accident one block away three years earlier.
Cianciotta says she finally swayed the city after 2010 Census data proved the area has experienced a population surge and now needs streets that are friendlier for pedestrians.
In one 15-block stretch between Humboldt Street and Metropolitan, Meeker, and Kingsland avenues, the population skyrocketed 45.8 percent to 3,318 people. In another plot between Manhattan Avenue and Humboldt, Richardson, and Devoe streets, the number of residents rose 18.7 percent to 2,645 people.
Those newcomers — along with longtime neighborhood residents — cross Woodpoint Road regularly to shop at a Bravo Supermarket on the corner, according to Cianciotta.
“When Guido and I go to the supermarket, Guido would have to look to the right and I would have to look to the left,” she said. “It’s difficult to cross if you’re going alone — you don’t know which way to look.”
Department of Transportation officials say they installed the light — which is equipped with a countdown clock giving pedestrians 13 seconds to cross Woodpoint Road — after conducting a study at the intersection in February following a request by Community Board 1.
Public officials said it was time for the corner to slow down.
“Woodpoint and Withers is a very dangerous spot and it’s only become more dangerous as our community grows,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), who wrote several letters endorsing the light. “This will provide for safer streets for everyone.”
But the Cianciottas aren’t done fighting for pedestrian safety yet. The couple wants another traffic light on Humboldt and Withers streets — a semaphore they have been requesting since 1983.
“That’s still in the works,” Cianciotta said. “We’re still hoping to get that.”Reach reporter Aaron Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2547.
©2012 Community News Group
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