City Begins Work on Queens Boulevard; De Blasio touts $100M Vision Zero project

City Begins Work on Queens Boulevard; De Blasio touts $100M Vision Zero project

PHOTO: Mayor de Blasio last week announced the beginning of the first phase of the Queens Boulevard Vision Zero project in Woodside.  Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The city last week embarked on the long-awaited journey to the “Boulevard of Life” from the infamous “Boulevard of Death.”Mayor Bill de Blasio last Thursday announced that the Department of Transportation has commenced work on Phase 1 of the $100 million Vision Zero overhaul of Queens Boulevard.

A 1.3-mile stretch of the thoroughfare—Roosevelt Avenue to 73rd Avenue in Woodside—is the first of three segments that will be “dramatically re-imagined to improve safety and livability,” de Blasio said.

According to the mayor’s office, between 2009 and 2013, six people were killed on this part of the roadway, 36 suffered severe injuries and 591 more were hurt in crashes.

The improvements will be installed through October, followed by the project’s extension further east in 2016.

“For the first time in history our city is taking concrete, progressive steps toward re-engineering the ‘Boulevard of Death’ to ensure it truly does become a boulevard that is filled with life,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

“We don’t accept that streets like Queens Boulevard have to be dangerous, that children and grandparents have to be taken from their families year after year,” de Blasio added. “And so, shoulder-to-shoulder with this community, we are taking action on one of the most ambitious and complex overhauls ever undertaken by the City. This street has earned the name ‘Boulevardof Death.’ Today, we begin work on the ‘Boulevard of Life.’”

Queens Boulevard is one of four major corridors being redesigned for safety under the $250 million Great Streets initiative funded in this year’s budget, in addition to 50 priority intersections and streets overhauled for safety each year by the DOT.

The redesign process began in January with DOT-sponsored workshops to gather community input on safety needs, and a study of traffic and safety conditions. In March, DOT presented a draft design to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee, and in May, returned to the board to respond to and discuss the community’s comments. The project was unanimously approved by CB 2.

When implemented, the project will improve safety on the corridor, de Blasio said. The new design will route through-traffic on the main line roadway and reduce motorists’ switching repeatedly between the main line and service road via “slip lanes.”

The plan eliminates highway-like design features that encourage speeding, and completes the pedestrian network by connecting neighborhoods with new crossings.

“After decades of crashes, this corridor will be redesigned to become a safer, greener, and more attractive corridor for residents and businesses,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “I look forward to seeing cyclists enjoy a new protected bike lane, pedestrians confidently crossing and motorists safely traversing through the World’s Borough.”

Following completion of this first phase, capital improvements on the stretch will start in Fiscal Year 2018. DOT indicated that it will soon begin work to redesign the boulevard from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue, and then from Eliot Avenue to Jamaica Avenue.

Since 1990, 185 New Yorkers have lost their lives on Queens Boulevard, most of them pedestrians, leading to morose monikers like “Boulevard of Death” and “Boulevard of Broken Bones.”


By Michael V. Cusenza

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