Forest Hills crosswalks get safety clocks

Forest Hills crosswalks get safety clocks
Forest Hills will soon get countdown clocks like this one, which was installed at Northern Boulevard and 108th Street in Corona last year.
By Joe Anuta

The Boulevard of Death might need a new nickname.

As part of a citywide program, Forest Hills will be getting six new countdown clocks at crosswalks along Queens Boulevard.

“This is a great thing,” said a triumphant Frank Gulluscio at a Community Board 6 meeting last week. “It goes to show we can fight City Hall, we can fight the powers that be.”

The clocks will be installed at 63rd Road, Yellowstone Boulevard and 66th, 67th, 70th and 78th avenues and are designed to aid pedestrians crossing the street. The clocks will display how much time remains before the lights change and 10 lanes of traffic roar into action.

The devices constituted a main policy objective for state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), who sent a letter to the city in December requesting the clocks.

“I am absolutely thrilled that the [city] Department of Transportation has finally taken action on this long-standing concern of my constituents,” Hevesi said in a statement. “The installation of these countdown clocks is a major safety feat not only for my neighbors, but also the thousands of people that travel Queens Boulevard daily.”

But the plan for the clocks was already solidified in August following a citywide study by the city Department of Transportation.

“Pedestrian fatalities occur disproportionately along multi-lane streets and avenues, and … speeding, driver inattention and failure to yield are the underlying factors behind the vast majority of pedestrian fatalities or serious injury accidents,” a press release from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office said.

The announcement in August that the city would install 1,500 countdown clocks followed a pilot program which proved the device’s effectiveness.

The clocks will be installed at every intersection that currently has a standard pedestrian walk signal along Queens Boulevard between Van Dam Street in Long Island City and Hillcrest Avenue in Jamaica.

A spokeswoman for Hevesi said that the letter was meant to express the assemblyman’s hope that those specific intersections in Forest Hills would be included in the program, since they were not specifically mentioned in the DOT’s August plan.

The city is scheduled to begin installing the clocks this summer, according to Hevesi.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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