By Bill Parry
The so-called Boulevard of Death will be redesigned beginning this summer, after the Department of Transportation’s plans got the green light from Community Board 2 last Thursday. The design for a 1.5-mile section of Queens Boulevard, from Roosevelt Avenue to 73rd Street, calls for protected bike lanes and an expanded pedestrian path as well as a change in traffic flow to make the corridor safer.
The first phase of the $100 million project is in Woodside. The remaining stretch of Queens Boulevard will be completed in two phases to the east and will need the approval of local community boards.
Six people were killed on that stretch of Queens Boulevard from 2009 to 2013, according to the DOT. During the same time period, 36 people suffered serious injuries, the vast majority in motor vehicles.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) spoke in support of the proposed corridor safety improvements in speeches prior to CB 2’s vote.
“Community Board 2’s unanimous vote tonight is a big step towards turning Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life,” Trottenberg said. “This investment made by the de Blasio Administration will make the boulevard safer, greener and better for all users. I would like to thank the community for its support and local leaders, such as Councilman Van Bramer, for their leadership.”
Van Bramer spoke of the community’s “unique opportunity to transform the boulevard” as part of a full-court press to get the vote passed before CB 2’s summer break. “We spent two hours covering every single aspect of the plan, everyone had a chance to make their apprehensions known and after four hours the members voted overwhelmingly to pass the DOT’s plan,” a CB 2 member said. “If we didn’t get it done, nobody would have been happy about it.”
Van Bramer was proud of the result. “For nearly 15 years I have joined families who have lost loved ones, transportation advocates, members of clergy, school officials and business owners to call on our city to fix the 7.2-mile stretch,” he said. “As soon as the de Blasio Administration entered office they immediately heard our concerns and took on this challenge, implementing Vision Zero. This vote sets in motion a transformative project that will protect the lives of countless New Yorkers—cyclists, motorists and pedestrians—for generations to come.”