Can DOT Just Give Joe Borelli a Damn Crosswalk?

Council Member Joe Borelli shows the spot in Annadale where he wants a raised crosswalk. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Council Member Joe Borelli shows the spot in Annadale where he wants a raised crosswalk. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Whatever happened to “safety first”?

It’s pretty rare for Streetsblog to find common cause with Staten Island Council Member — and recidivist speeder — Joe Borelli, but the lead-footed lawmaker asked the city for a crucial pedestrian safety improvements in Annadale last year and all he has heard from DOT is crickets.

Certainly, the agency responded to Borelli’s request for a raised crosswalk to deter rampant speeding near the town square and its busy railroad station — but its response was a harsh no. And in the almost nine months since, the problem hasn’t been dealt with at all.

Let’s go to the videotape.

In July, 2019, Borelli wrote to DOT’s Staten Island Commissioner Thomas Cocola to request four raised crosswalks — which are a combination of painted crosswalk and a speed hump — calling their installation a “matter that greatly affects the safety of my constituents.” (Streetsblog has provided plenty of positive ink for raised crosswalks.)

This raised crosswalk at Tinton Avenue and East 150th Street in the Bronx is one of five the city plans to install as part of a federally-funded pilot.
Here’s a raised crosswalk at Tinton Avenue and East 150th Street in the Bronx. Photo: NYC DOT

Specifically, Borelli wanted the raised crosswalks in three locations on Annadale Road and one on Jefferson Boulevard — on either side of the Annadale green and the Annadale station on the Staten Island Railroad, a rare area on the Rock that actually has pedestrian traffic.

Two weeks later, Cocola responded with a laundry list of reasons why the city could not slow down drivers at those four locations.

“These locations were found to be infeasible for raised crosswalks due to a lack of existing crosswalks, being located on a bus route, conflicts with the Annadale Road rail bridge and overall site drainage conditions,” he wrote.

Ironically, the letter said that DOT favors raised crosswalks because they “reduce vehicular speeding, increase pedestrian visibility, encourage motorists to yield to pedestrians [and] address issues of accessibility for seniors and people with ambulatory disabilities.”

Sounds like such things would be a priority. But, you know, drainage…

Borelli is an imperfect messenger for the street safety movement, given that he admits that he frequently drives above the speed limit and that his car has been slapped with five camera-issued speeding tickets. But he says he will continue to raise the issue with DOT because, he told Streetsblog, drivers should not be speeding through the Annadale town.

“The rejection [of raised crosswalks] is disappointing,” he said, disputing Cocola’s reasoning. “If there is a good reason, let’s have it. If not, just try it out!”

In any event, since Cocola’s letter, nothing has changed in the main area of Annadale — the city did not even install a painted crosswalk to the green or the train station.

“That makes no sense whatsoever,” Borelli said. “Why can’t there be street markings in a few spots?”

And it’s not like crashes are disappearing. In the year before Borelli’s request, there were eight crashes in the downtown portion of Annadale. In the eight months since, there have been four — but it’s important to note that since March, 2019, Staten Island cops don’t respond to every crash, so there may be many crashes that are going unreported.

All told, there have been 25 crashes in the area since January, 2017.

DOT’s letter to Borelli is embedded below: