By Bill Parry
The Vision Zero traffic safety plan will soon make its Queens debut at the Northern Boulevard intersection with 61st Street in Woodside, where Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced the initiative Jan. 15.
Noshat Nahian, an 8-year-old student at PS 152, was struck and killed by a turning truck while crossing the dangerous six-lane roadway with his sister. They were on their way to class Dec. 20 and there was no crossing guard assigned to the area.
The city Department of Transportation will begin a comprehensive redesign of the intersection in the coming weeks, including the installation of two pedestrian safety islands to create a safer crossing. The agency will implement traffic calming measures including school crosswalks and safer, slower turns.
The DOT will ban left-hand turns onto 61st Street and it has already cut street parking to create extra visibility for drivers making the left-hand turn onto Northern Boulevard that killed Noshat.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) pushed hard for the intersection’s inclusion on the Vision Zero priority list of 50 locations throughout the city, holding several press events and tours for officials.
The newly installed majority leader of the City Council also secured an additional crossing guard for PS 152.
“We must do everything possible to make sure that no child is ever harmed trying to cross the street to get to PS 152,” Van Bramer said. “We continue to mourn Noshat Nahian and we are as committed as ever to making Vision Zero in Woodside and New York City.”
In Albany, where state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) continues to fight for a law that would make it a felony for drivers who drive with suspended licenses and kill or seriously injure someone in the process — legislation he introduced following the death of the PS 152 student — he reacted to the DOT’s efforts.
“I only wish these plans had been completed before the life of Noshat Nahian was so tragically lost,” Gianaris said. “We have far more to do to remove the dangers posed by our streets.”
On Monday morning, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced legislation requiring states to address the increase in serious injuries and fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists.
Crowley touted his Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 at the Jackson Heights intersection on Northern Boulevard where 11-year-old Miguel Torres, was struck and killed by a dump truck in the shadows of his school, IS 145, last year.
“The recent string in traffic-related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” Crowley said. “That’s why I’m introducing a bill that requires states to do just that. We need to insure that federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero. It’s time to put an end to the tragedy on our streets.”
Elsewhere in Jackson Heights, the DOT erected metal fencing at a busy intersection where a woman was struck and killed by a city bus in February.
Martha Tibillin-Guamug, 25, was hit by a Q53 bus on Broadway near 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said, “The agency continues to review the area for further safety enhancements, and we welcome input from community stakeholders on this.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.