In February, a taxi knocked over a pedestrian signal at a busy Brooklyn intersection and residents say their calls for repairs went unheeded for weeks — until the THE CITY started asking questions.
An orange cone now stands at the northwest corner of Fulton and Adelphi Streets in Fort Greene, hiding the broken mound of electronics where a pedestrian signal once stood, leaving locals concerned for their safety.
“It’s stupid because when you’re crossing you can’t see if it’s your turn,” Julie Tolbert, a 44-year-old home help aide who has lived across the street for 23 years, told THE CITY. “I complain about this every day.”
The intersection is in an area with a high density of “killed or severely injured” pedestrians, according to data from City Hall’s Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce traffic accidents.
In 2017 — just a few blocks from where this signal once stood —Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his $400 million five-year Vision Zero plan. Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School and a nursing home are about a block from the intersection.
When New Yorkers have traffic-related complaints they can call 311, which then notifies the city Department of Transportation. If they were to reach out to their community board or local police precinct, they’ll just be told to call 311.
According to city records, a 311 pedestrian signal complaint was reported at that intersection on April 2, and the case was “closed” that same night.
But a signal hasn’t been erected in the two weeks since.
Extra Care in Crossing
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told THE CITY that an inspection of the busted signal occurred way back on February 20 — and that the length of time for repairs varies.
Meanwhile, pedestrians go out of their way to avoid oncoming traffic.
“I have to walk over to the other side to cross the street,” said Rena Alexander, 52, who has lived at the intersection for nine years.
Some residents, however, were none the wiser. Septuagenarian James Ellis, who has lived across the street for 36 years, didn’t notice the signal was gone.
“I just look at the cars, not the lights,” he said.
DOT hires private contractors to fix traffic signals. The agency said an average repair costs $640.
Welsbach Electric, which maintains traffic signals in Brooklyn and Queens, declined THE CITY’s requests for comment.
Since 2015, there have been an estimated 7,803 pedestrian signal complaints to 311 across Brooklyn, far higher than any other borough, accounting for roughly one-third of all pedestrian signal complaints.
The DOT could not provide numbers on how fast signal complaints are usually resolved, but after being contacted by THE CITY, a spokesperson said the light would be fixed by the “end of the week.”
UPDATE: On Friday, April 19 — the morning after THE CITY published this story and days after we started questioning the DOT — a new signal was installed at the intersection.
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