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DOT Axes Midland Beach Slow Zone, and Staten Islanders Seem OK With That

20 mph speed limits won't be coming to Midland Beach, but sped humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]
20 mph speed limits won't be coming to Midland Beach, but speed humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]
20 mph speed limits won't be coming to Midland Beach, but sped humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT has shelved a Neighborhood Slow Zone planned for Staten Island's Midland Beach neighborhood over local opposition to a 20 mph speed limit on one of the streets within the project area. Borough President Jimmy Oddo, who supported the Slow Zone as a council member, is now applauding DOT for canceling it.

The news came in a letter from Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to Oddo and his City Council successor and former chief of staff, Steven Matteo. While the Slow Zone is dead, DOT says it will consider speed humps on cross streets in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood Slow Zones include speed humps, 20 mph speed limits, and signage to slow drivers in residential areas. Community Education Council 31, a group of volunteers who advise the city on education policy for the neighborhood, first applied for the Midland Beach Slow Zone in 2011, said president Michael Reilly, and resubmitted its application in 2013.

DOT accepted the Midland Beach application that year and announced it would be implemented in 2016. The zone is bounded by Father Capodanno Boulevard, Hylan Boulevard, Midland Avenue, and the Miller Field recreation area [PDF].

All streets in the zone were to get a 20 mph speed limit, and speed humps were to be installed on most streets, but not Lincoln Avenue and Greeley Avenue, which cross the neighborhood between Hylan and Father Capodanno.

The Slow Zone received a letter of support from Oddo, who was soon after elected borough president in 2013. Matteo, who served as Oddo's chief of staff since 2006, then became the local council member.

The plan was supported by the Community Board 2 transportation committee, Reilly said, but stalled at the full board over opposition to a 20 mph speed limit on Greeley Avenue, which is a shortcut for drivers avoiding parallel Midland Avenue.

That's when Oddo and Matteo began to turn against the project.

Image: Council Member Steven Matteo/Facebook
Image: Council Member Steven Matteo/Facebook
Image: Council Member Steven Matteo/Facebook

Greeley has one lane in each direction, a striped median, and parking on both sides of the street. The speed limit was lowered to 25 mph last year as part of the citywide speed limit reduction.

"I have long fought for real solutions, but a 20 mph speed limit on Greeley Avenue is not realistic, not rational, and not a real solution to the problem," Oddo said in a statement. "We need only to examine how ineffective the 25 mph speed limit is not only on Greeley, but in other corridors. Not only do we have cars that continue to speed, we have a whole cadre of new frustrated drivers. I think DOT made the right decision and I am hopeful that this latest study will lead to actual action to slow down traffic on Greeley."

"I still believe that the placement of a well-placed stop sign along Greeley Ave is the answer and we will continue to advocate for that simple traffic calming measure," Matteo said on his Facebook page.

CEC 31's Michael Reilly isn't heartbroken over the death of the Slow Zone. "We submitted [the zone] as a guide, because we knew that DOT would tweak any submissions. And they went forward with it as submitted,” Reilly said. “Greeley was a two-way heavily traveled street that just fell into that border."

"We were in full support of the slow zone. Not for making Greeley a 20 mile an hour zone. That was just ridiculous," Midland Beach Civic Association Yasmin Ammirato said in an email. She said the group's members are looking forward to the additional speed humps on side streets.

Like Greeley Avenue, those streets will retain a 25 mph speed limit.

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