CANDLELIGHT VIGIL, ON MARCH 22, IN HONOR OF WOMAN WHO DIED AFTER BEING STRUCK BY GARBAGE TRUCK AT UPPER EAST SIDE INTERSECTION
NYCHA Residents, Neighbors, Pledge 2 Protect and Elected Officials Mourn Together
Community Fears Other Deaths to Follow if City Continues without Adequate Safeguards

(NEW YORK, NY), MARCH 22, 2016 – On Tuesday, March 22, 2016 a Candlelight Vigil was held to honor Jodi McGrath, 55, who died on March 15, 2016 after being struck by a garbage truck at 1st Avenue and E. 92nd Street. Ms. McGrath lived at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Holmes Towers. Family, friends, neighbors, fellow residents of Holmes Towers and Stanley Isaacs (another NYCHA complex adjoining Holmes Towers), Pledge 2 Protect (P2P) representatives and elected officials gathered on Tuesday to remember Ms. McGrath’s life and again ask Mayor de Blasio and New York Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia to fulfill their promise to safeguard the community from garbage trucks.

Ms. McGrath was crossing 1st Avenue westbound at 92nd Street when the garbage truck driving eastbound on 92nd Street made a left turn onto 1st Avenue and hit her. She had the right of way and was in the crosswalk when she was struck down. Ms. McGrath was pronounced dead a few hours later at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Milagros Velasquez, vice president of NYCHA’s Holmes Towers and representative of Ms. McGrath’s family said, “Jodi McGrath was a friend, she was a neighbor, she was a fixture in our community.” Velasquez continued, “We always knew that someone from our neighborhood would be hurt due to a garbage truck. It was only a matter of time. It’s tragic that no one wants to listen or believe our concerns about these issues. Hopefully they [Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia] don’t wait for it to be someone’s child in order to make real changes,” she concluded.

Among other measures to safeguard the community against the traffic dangers of operating the E. 91st St. marine transfer station (MTS) which is situated in a densely populated residential neighborhood, the community has asked the de Blasio administration to complete new traffic studies and safety plans before the MTS becomes operational. This is critical as there have been significant traffic changes in the surrounding community (since the MTS was approved over a decade ago) including the 2nd Avenue Subway, new bike lanes, new bus lanes, and increased car and pedestrian traffic. Community requests include:
– Traffic study to determine vehicle access to MTS and limit trucks on residential streets
– New pedestrian safety plan including the stationing of safety officers at the entrance of the ramp(s) during operational hours
– “Time of Day” restrictions based upon high pedestrian traffic times (school openings and closings)
– Installing traffic lights with protected arrows for vehicles turning and pedestrians crossing streets

Hundreds of garbage truck trips will converge daily on this residential community. Six days a week, 24 hours a day, these trucks will not only rumble past numerous schools, homes, daycares but also BETWEEN a sports field, playground and athletic building visited by millions of children and New Yorkers from all boroughs every year.

“The area in Yorkville near this Marine Transfer Station is an extremely dense residential neighborhood, and dramatically increasing truck traffic there will dramatically increase the risk to pedestrians,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The volume of Sanitation Department and private carting trucks moving through Yorkville now is a fraction of what it could be after 2017, when the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station is slated to open. As the Mayor continues to advance his Vision Zero pedestrian safety plan, we need measures to prevent more tragedies like the one we saw on First Avenue last week.”  

Speaking at the Vigil on behalf of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY12 District), Chief of Staff Mina Elias, stated, “Jodi McGrath’s tragic death shows that what we’ve been saying is true: garbage trucks and people are a deadly combination.  Imagine how much more dangerous it will be when hundreds of trucks converge at this corner every day to enter the MTS.  A garbage transfer station does not belong in a residential neighborhood. ”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jodi McGrath, and me and my office stand ready to help in any way we can,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “A residential neighborhood is no place for a garbage dump. The city should not force hundreds of dump trucks down small side streets. The dump is not even built yet and we have already seen our first traffic death. Let’s stop this dump and prevent future traffic fatalities.”

Franca Gioia, P2P representative at the Vigil, stated, “We hope the Mayor takes the needed steps to help ensure that no other family suffers this senseless and painful loss. The Mayor talks about how his Vision Zero plan will protect New Yorkers, but so far his plans for the E. 91st MTS are in direct conflict and show zero vision.”

Also attending the Vigil:
Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez’ representative stated, “I extend my condolences to the friends and family of Jodi McGrath. Fatalities like these are a tragic reminder of the utmost importance of driver and pedestrian safety in our city’s streets.  While initiatives like Vision Zero are starting to spotlight this grave situation, there is still much work to be done to prevent traffic deaths, increase awareness, and improve traffic safety citywide.  I look forward to working with the Mayor’s administration in continuing to identify solutions and areas within my district where heavy truck, car and pedestrian traffic, and proximity to public spaces such as playgrounds, schools and shopping corridors, continue to put lives in danger.”

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright’s representative stated, “I am deeply saddened by the news of Jodi McGrath’s passing and my heartfelt condolences go out to her family and neighbors. No one should have to walk the streets of our neighborhood in fear. As the representative of the 76th Assembly District I will continue to voice numerous concerns with the Marine Transfer Station and fight for the safety of our community residents. This is a great loss to our community that will not be forgotten,”

Assembly Member Quart and Council Member Garodnick’s representatives extend their condolences to Ms. McGrath’s family and friends along with the commitment to continue working towards protecting the health and safety of the community from the dangers of the E. 91st St. MTS.

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Statements from other community leaders concerned about this issue:

Rosemary Bergin, president of NYCHA’s Stanley Isaacs Tenants Association stated, “This may be the first, “but it certainly wont be the last when the E. 91st Street Marine Transfer Station opens and hundreds of garbage trucks go zooming by Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers.”