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Exclusive: Perilous Queens Traffic Island

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Who would install a traffic island that forces drivers to go perilously close to speeding trains to make a turn?

If your answer is the New York City Department of Transportation, you'd be right.

"The fact that the DOT engineers could have approved this, it boggles the mind," said City Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Queens.

Halloran said that's not the only thing that boggles the mind. In addition to the new traffic island near the Little Neck train station, DOT engineers also installed a sign that makes it illegal to make a right turn during morning and evening rush hours. So your choice is to make an illegal right turn and risk a ticket or make a legal left turn and risk your life.

"Someone is going to get killed," Halloran said.

CBS 2's Marcia Kramer watched that intersection during the morning rush hour and guess what?  She found that driver after driver chose to make illegal right turns, and run the risk of getting a ticket, rather than take the more dangerous DOT-approved option.

Needless to say, residents and commuters are furious.

"This is a monstrosity. This has got to be the worst designed island I've ever seen in my life," said Little Neck resident Sal Del Giudice. "This is going to create accidents. People stop here regularly dropping off people for the train. The people get backed up because they used to be able to get around. Now they're going to be backed up on the tracks."

"This is a safety hazard," one woman added.

"School buses come down here, garbage trucks, tractor trailers. They can't make that left turn, because there's not enough room between the island and the gate when it comes down. You have to almost go into the gate to make the left turn," said Jay Sapiro of Roslyn Heights.

It took Kramer six hours to get a response from DOT. The agency said it's part of a plan to establish a "quite zone" and stop trains from honking their horns.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said "these safety changes are part of the community-requested railway quiet zone being implemented to improve the quality of life for local residents."

And here's another question: what happens in the winter when the plaza is covered with snow? The councilman said it's going to be even more dangerous.

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