Pictured Above: Mike Ciuffo at the intersection of Flushing and Onderdonk avenues.
BY MELISSA GOLDIN
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved a request from the Queens Chamber of Commerce to install traffic lights at Flushing and Onderdonk avenues, a busy intersection on the border of Ridgewood and Williamsburg. They are scheduled to go up at the end of the month.
The light is intended to reduce the number of accidents at the intersection, a consequence of heavy traffic on Flushing Avenue and large commercial vehicles entering and exiting companies such as M&V Provisions, a wholesale food distributor, and Frito Lay. Congestion is especially bad between 3 and 7 a.m.
Mike Ciuffo, executive vice president at M&V, said he has witnessed countless incidents, including a hit and run about two months ago. There have been no fatalities yet, but an ambulance had to be called once and tow trucks have carted wrecked vehicles away.
He said watching pedestrians, including those getting off the B57, try to cross Flushing Avenue is like witnessing a real-life game of Frogger.
“It’s a matter of life and death on this street,” Ciuffo said. “I was giving up hope.”
When he joined the Queens Chamber of Commerce last year, getting traffic lights installed was one of the first issues he wanted to tackle. He had previously approached DOT about the problem, as had employees at Frito Lay, but didn’t see any progress aside from a study done by the department.
The initiative picked up steam again a year ago when the Chamber organized a meeting at M&V with DOT representatives, business owners and community leaders.
DOT conducted additional studies on the intersection in the intervening months and explored alternatives to traffic lights, such as no parking signs intended to increase visibility on the street, before approving the request. The Chamber continued to work with DOT throughout this process.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan also pushed hard for the safety measure.
“The installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Flushing and Onderdonk avenues is a great victory for our community,” Nolan said. “Safe streets should always be the highest priority in protecting our pedestrians.”