As a result, cars waiting to make a left turn at the busy intersection of 26th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard often back up and force drivers to make dangerous decisions, he said.
Even the Queens lawmaker had to wait two lights to make the turn.
“I was trying to make the left turn to get here, the first one I couldn’t make,” Avella said. “I would’ve had to go through the red light to make it, so I sat there. I barely made the next one just as it was going from yellow to red.”
The situation worsens during rush hour, Avella said. Traffic backs up in the turn lane, and cars often take a chance when they turn on the yellow or red light.
“Anybody who drives this intersection knows you can’t make that turn without having to go through a yellow,” he said. “Half the time, you’re going through the red.
“I admit I do that,” he added. “There’s no other way to make this turn.”
According to DOT data, there haven’t been any fatalities at that intersection since 2009, but there have been 33 injuries.
Avella previously asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install the left-turn signal, which would give drivers making a turn their own light, in 2014 and 2015. After a third time, DOT denied the request.
A DOT spokesperson said the agency has studied the intersection and found the location did not meet the warrants for a left-turn signal. They are considering other safety improvements, which they will discuss with the local community, the spokesperson said.
Avella said he will continue writing to DOT to challenge their decision.
“I don’t understand the logic here of the unwillingness to make a location safer,” he said. “Yes, it’ll slow down traffic a few minutes but improving safety, isn’t that what Vision Zero supposed to be about?”