Vision Zero work gets under way on Broadway

By Bill Parry

Change is coming to Broadway.

The city Department of Transportation started to alter the traffic patterns on a half-mile stretch of the dangerous Woodside roadway beginning last week. The agency will also bring Arterial Slow Zones, with its 25-miles-per-hour speed limits to Roosevelt Avenue in September and Metropolitan avenues in December..

“It is good to see DOT continue to make good on its pledge to get serious about improving street safety in Queens,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “For years it seemed our pleas for safer streets would fall on deaf ears, but Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero has brought results to the streets of western Queens.”

The improvements on Broadway, between Northern Boulevard and 65th Street, will include converting three lanes into four with a center medium to calm and better organize traffic with wider parking lanes to facilitate safer bike travel.

Updated signaling at 34th Avenue will improve pedestrian and vehicle safety and the DOT will also install left-turn bays along the stretch that will create simpler, safer left turns.

Broadway is considered to be a high-crash corridor, according to the DOT, where 238 injuries have occurred in the last five years, 10 of them severe. There have been two deaths along the stretch since 2008, including the Sept. 28 hit-and-run death of 19-year-old Luis Bravo at 58th Street and Broadway.

The traffic safety measures come after the DOT reduced the speed limit on Northern Boulevard to 25 mph. The agency also made significant traffic design improvements at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was struck and killed while crossing the Boulevard to get to class at PS 152 in December.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) pushed hard for the new traffic safety measures.

“The improvements we are introducing to Broadway in Woodside will improve safety for all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who use this popular stretch every single day,” he said. “No family should ever have to suffer the tragedy of losing a loved one to a traffic collision that could have been prevented. These safety enhancements will decrease incidents of speeding and help prevent vehicles from flouting traffic regulations that are meant to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The new Arterial Slow Zones were announced by DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg Friday. They will bring improvements to a 5.8-mile stretch of Roosevelt Avenue between Queens Boulevard and 154th Street and 5.6 miles of Metropolitan Avenue between Onderdonk Avenue and 132nd Street.

“Slow zones are a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero,” Trottenberg said. “We are glad to work closely with local communities in bringing these life-saving measures to corridors across the city.”

The speed limit at all Slow Zones will be lowered by 5 mph with new distinctive signs. The DOT will update signal timing to maintain mobility and prevent diversions to residential streets. The NYPD will increase enforcement of traffic laws in the zones.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for not only talking the talk, but walking the walk when it comes to instituting his Vision Zero plan,” Gianaris said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.