NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Parents and local leaders are blasting the Department of Education’s “safe route” in Queens which they claim is putting school children in danger.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said in the last week there were two accidents at the intersection of Laurel Hill Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside, a suggested “safe route.”
He claims the DOE is putting the children of P.S. 229 in a dangerous situation on a daily basis.
“Instead of protecting children it places them directly in harm’s way forcing children, as young as 7- and 8-years-old, to walk into one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Queens, forcing them to stare down tractor-trailers just to get to school,” Van Bramer told 1010 WINS.
The DOE’s reversal of policy eliminated bus service which was critical in bringing children living in the Big Six Towers to school safely.
Now, the children must walk what Bramer calls a dangerous route, which involves crossing the service road of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
“I challenge anyone to walk that route, to spend 30 seconds at the corner of Laurel Hill Boulevard and 61st Street and not find that it is a scary and dangerous intersection,” Van Bramer said.
In February, Van Bramer questioned DOE officials for denying a hazard variance which now forces the students to cross over the busy boulevard.
“What is the department of education waiting for? What needs to happen in order for them to restore this bus service?” Van Bramer asked. “We hope to god that we are not waiting for a child to be injured.”
Assembly member Margaret Markey said “a bureaucratic decision is putting the lives of our children needlessly at risk.”
Department of Education spokesperson Marge Feinberg said they will continue to review requests for individual variances.
The department eliminated school-wide waivers two years ago.
Feinberg said the department conducted a review of the intersection in question and determined it “has both a traffic signal and a sidewalk along the underpass.”