DOT Announces Improvements At Busy Queens Blvd. Crossing – QNS.com

DOT Announces Improvements At Busy Queens Blvd. Crossing

Continuing their efforts to make Queens Boulevard safer and more user-friendly, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has finalized plans to improve one of the roads more dangerous intersections in Forest Hills.
The DOT will install a 15-foot median halfway across the daunting 10-lane highway on the east-bound side between 70th Road and 71st Street at Continental Avenue. Formerly a left-turn lane, this road space will be elevated to curb-height, affording pedestrians a safe haven while traversing the thoroughfare, which measures over half-a-football-field wide (150 ft.). The long-awaited project is on-point for completion in mid-September.
This quantum improvement for the safety of pedestrians crossing the so-called "Boulevard of Death" is the latest phase of a $3 million list of initiatives announced by the DOT three years ago, when the number of fatalities (84 in a 10-year period) and injuries during the same time frame (more than 1,000) reached staggering proportions.
Citizens’ watchdog groups led by Joseph Hennessey of Community Board 6 in Rego Park and Estelle and Norbert Chwat of the Forest Hills Action League, were instrumental in persuading the DOT to quickly implement a series of alterations to reduce the alarming number of pedestrian-involved accidents on the seven-mile passageway from Jamaica to Long Island City and the Queensboro Bridge.
Many inroads have already been made, which include lengthening the traffic signal interval times, installing surveillance cameras to catch speeding motorists who run red lights, installing fencing along existing medians to curb jaywalkers, posting no U-turn signs where appropriate and placing parking meters on the service roads to help reduce speeds on those local-street adjuncts.
According to John Stavins of the NYC Department of Design and Construction, choosing the location for the new median was an easy choice.
"The Queens Boulevard intersection at 71st Street and Continental Avenue is one of the most frequently crossed portions of the roadway," Stavins said. "It has an express stop on the E and F subway lines and a terminus point for two other subway routes, the R and G, while also serving as an integral hub of the neighborhood’s bus service."
Before work can commence on the median, the MTA is surveying the road to identify the exact location of the subway tunnel support girders that lay directly underneath to preclude any errant drilling during the project. When these steel reinforcement beams (or rebars) are found, and new vent shafts for the busy 71st Street subway station can be plotted, the DOT will commence the construction of the new concrete island.
Ever since the road was first widened during the 1930’s and renamed Queens Boulevard (from Hoffman Road), pedestrians and speed-happy motorists have been waging a turf war on what has sometimes been called "The Long Island Expressway with crosswalks."
While there will always be occasional traffic accidents, fatalities on the Boulevard have been greatly reduced from their previously fearsome level. Now, with this soon-to-be-installed median at the frenetic 71st Street intersection, another small oasis of pedestrian safety will be available for those who need a "halftime intermission" while crossing the intimidating roadway.

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