Woodhaven Blvd. nets worst road designation

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

A new report by a transportation group has compiled a list of the most dangerous roads for New Yorkers traveling by foot, and that report has some bad news for Woodhaven residents.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit, reviewed traffic data from 2009-11 and found Woodhaven Boulevard to be the most dangerous road for pedestrians in Queens.

“It’s never good to wake up and learn you live near the deadliest road,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “But it really is not a surprise.”

According to the campaign’s report, seven pedestrians have been killed in traffic accidents on the boulevard since 2009, a list that included four fatalities in 2011 alone. Wendell said the dangers of the boulevard are no secret to residents and officials alike, as Capt. Henry Saunter, of the 102nd Precinct, spoke about efforts to protect pedestrians at a recent precinct council meeting.

Wendell said the safety of pedestrians routinely comes up at these meetings and he believes there are two important steps that officials can take to lower the fatalities.

“The lighting needs improvement. The intersection at Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue is under a train station and it is extremely dark under there — even during the day,” he said. “We also need to increase enforcement of speeding laws. Cars go flying down that road.”

Wendell would also like to see signs put up on the boulevard, alerting pedestrians and drivers to the potential dangers, as was done on Queens Boulevard, called the Boulevard of Death by some.

The campaign reported Queens Boulevard had no fatalities in 2011, with a total of four deaths from 2009-11, placing it in a three-way tie for third place with Union Turnpike, Northern and Lefferts boulevards. Jamaica Avenue came in second with a total of five deaths from 2009-11.

The report said 125 pedestrians were killed on Queens roads in the three years from 2009 through 2011. One type of road stands out as particularly dangerous for pedestrians, according to the report issued by the campaign.

“The analysis found that arterial roads — roads with two or more lanes in each direction that are designed to accommodate vehicle speeds of 40 mph or higher — are the most deadly for pedestrians, with almost 60 percent of pedestrian deaths in Connecticut, New Jersey and downstate New York occurring on this type of road,” said Renata Silberblatt, report author and staff analyst with the campaign. “Arterials were traditionally designed to move vehicles from one destination to the next without regard for other road users like pedestrians and bicyclists. We continue to see that designing roads like this results in needless loss of life.”

And this is what makes Woodhaven Boulevard so dangerous to pedestrians, said Wendell. He believes the boulevard is ill-suited for an increasingly pedestrian population and this report should act as a wake-up call to drivers and pedestrians alike.

“This road has been a danger my entire life,” he said. “It is essentially a 10-lane highway.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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