By Phil Corso
The untimely death of a toddler crossing a busy intersection in Flushing prompted the city to take action after some pressure from northeast Queens lawmakers.
Allison Liao, 3, of Hillcrest, was killed last month after she was hit by a 2000 Nissan SUV on Cherry Avenue near Main Street while walking with her grandmother. Her death sent shock waves through the northeast Queens community and elected officials throughout the region called on the city Transportation Department to revisit the dangerous intersection.
The driver stayed at the scene but has not been charged, police said. After the accident, the Flushing street corner was decorated with flowers and a small white teddy bear in memory of the toddler.
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) announced Sunday she and other legislators reached an agreement with the DOT to enhance safety at the intersection and called on the city to conduct a traffic study review of the area.
“I am proud to announce the Department of Transportation has listened to the concerns of our community and decided to take the necessary corrective actions,” Rozic said. “These measures will slow down drivers, make Main Street safer for pedestrians and better protect our children and families.”
Rozic worked alongside state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) in the aftermath of the tragic accident to make sure something was done to alleviate dangerous conditions at the intersection.
“Although there’s nothing we can do to bring little Allison back, I am hopeful that these improvements will prevent another tragedy here,” Stavisky said. “I would also like to remind pedestrians and motorists that downtown Flushing is an extremely busy and congested area and to use the utmost caution when crossing streets and driving.”
According to the agreement, the DOT will get rid of two parking spots at the Cherry Avenue eastbound approach north curb to make it easier for drivers to see when turning left, Rozic said. The city also agreed to add a No Standing sign in the same location.
Lawmakers said the DOT would be looking into installing a countdown clock for pedestrians crossing the intersection in early 2014.
“I can’t imagine the pain that this family is going through after the loss of their young child. This is a tragedy that has affected me and the entire community,” Koo said. “I am committed to working with my colleagues and the Department of Transportation to do everything possible to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again. The changes being proposed by DOT are a step in the right direction.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.