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Sunnyside due for slow zones as funds ramp up for projects

By Bill Parry

Big changes are coming to the streets of Sunnyside and Long Island City as lawmakers allocate funding for future projects that will change the way drive in the borough.

The city Department of Transportation has presented plans in recent weeks that further implement Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative that is designed to lower traffic fatalities within the next decade.

The DOT plans call for slow zones that will cover two large, residential sections of Sunnyside on both sides of Queens Boulevard. Slow zones will be marked by large, blue signs declaring a 20-mph speed limit, speed bumps and markings throughout the area.

The north section is designated the “Sunnyside Garden-Woodside Slow Zone” and it will stretch from 43rd to 58th streets between Queens Boulevard and Barnett Avenue. There are six schools and daycare centers in that area.

In the south, the “Sunnyside Slow Zone” will stretch from 36th to 51st streets in between Queens and Laurel Hill boulevards.

Community Board 2 will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Sept. 17. Construction might get underway before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the DOT has introduced pedestrian safety changes in the Court Square and Queens Plaza sections of Long Island City. The plans will reduce the width of 28th Street with the addition of a center median.

The size of the pedestrian island, at the corner of 28th Street and 42nd Road, will be enlarged. The DOT will also create a pedestrian island in the middle off 44th Drive and extend the sidewalk on the northwest corner to reduce the distance for pedestrians trying to cross the bust street.

A section of Crescent Street and another at 44th Drive will be changed to a two-way street to help traffic flow better.

“As more slow zones and traffic safety improvements come to western Queens, it is becoming clear that Mayor de Blasio is making good on his plans to make our streets safer,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “There is always more work to do, but we have already taken great strides and these slow zones are the latest example.”

While the DOT continues planning future project, it is up to the elected officials to deliver the financing.

To that end, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced last Tuesday that the federal government will send $25 million in grant money for future Vision Zero projects in New York City. The funding will pay to improve safety on the streets around several schools, including PS 54 in Woodhaven, PS 199 in Long Island City, PS 92 in Corona and PS 13 in Flushing.

“This major federal funding is great news for New York City’s cornerstone street-safety initiative,” Schumer said, “which will use federal TIGER funds to help make the city’s bustling streets safer for children, bikers and commuters.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who introduced the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014, said, “This funding will not only benefit the city, but it will directly benefit New Yorkers who deserve to walk the streets of our neighborhoods without fear of being struck by a vehicle. Sadly, we have lost too many members of our community to the hazardous conditions that compromise our local roadways. This grant will go a long way in making the city’s Vision Zero initiative a reality.”

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

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