Green light: stop sign to be replaced with traffic light

Jude Herwitz, Staff Writer

Eight months after the stop sign on the northeast corner of the 246th Street and Tibbet Ave intersection was removed, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced last Wednesday that they will install a traffic signal at the intersection by the end of April, 2019. 

The sign, which regulated traffic going west on 246th street, was removed by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) on February 14th, 2018 because the DOT did not have records of a stop sign’s being there, Director of Public Safety Mike McCaw said. This led the DOT to believe that the sign was unauthorized. The school was not notified prior to the occurrence that the removal would take place, he said.

When Public Safety officers saw workers taking the signs down and realized what the situation was, McCaw spoke on the phone with an employee of the DOT Bronx Borough Command, McCaw said. He was told why it was being taken down and that if he wished for it to be replaced, he should file a report and ask for a traffic survey. Both McCaw and Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly did so, but they did not receive any acknowledgment until a month later.

“When I spoke to the person at the Bronx Borough Command the day that these signs were removed, I was absolutely amazed that they weren’t reinstalled the next day,” McCaw said. “To take stop signs in the vicinity of a school with a population of 1787 students, it’s ludicrous.” 

In March, the school received a response from the DOT, they were told that a traffic survey would be conducted within 16 weeks. 27 weeks later, or mid-last month, a DOT agent came and observed pickup and departure for the survey, McCaw said.

On Wednesday, the DOT’s Bronx Borough Commissioner Nivardo Lopez wrote McCaw in an email that “a traffic signal has been approved at the intersection.” The traffic signal could take the form of a traditional red-yellow-green traffic light, McCaw said, or perhaps a red blinking light similar in function to a stop sign except placed more visibly in the middle of the road.

“While I’m deeply appreciative of the outcome, seven months for the sign to return is unacceptable; we’re already working on reducing that number,” Kelly wrote in an email.

Ari Salsberg (10) expressed confusion at how long it will take for the DOT to install the light, he said. “I’m surprised that they’re not more efficient about it. So obviously for a traffic light they might need to do some electrical work, but that they don’t do something temporary seems unsafe,” he said.

In the meantime, as well as after the traffic signal is installed, Public Safety Officers will continue to guide traffic at the street crossings, McCaw said.

A car can legally drive up the street at 25 mph, the speed limit in New York City, which, if a student were trying to cross while and was not seen by the driver, could result in a serious injury, McCaw said. Public Safety officers are also putting themselves at great risk for injury while regulating traffic during pickup and drop off, which is necessitated by the city’s decision to remove the sign.

When Taimur Moolji (11) found out about the sign’s removal, he was confused as to why the city would take such an action. “It’s probably good to have a sign because there’d be less of a need for crossing guards at the intersection,” he said.

Catherine Mignone (9) agreed with Moolji and couldn’t understand why it would be good for the sign to be removed, she said.

“I hadn’t heard about it before so now that I’m hearing about it, I feel like if the school wants a stop sign, it’s probably safer for us to have it there, so I think it’s a good idea to fight for it and try to get it back,” Mignone said.

“The busses should be all right because we got professional drivers and normally when we come to the school, there are security guards here who help direct us around the corner,” said Jermaine Caldwell, a Supertrans bus driver. However, he is worried about students safety in regards to those who are not bus drivers, such as parents and whoever else.

“They drive crazy, so without the stop sign being here something’s bound to happen sooner or later,” Caldwell said.