By Bill Parry
The DOT will begin installing safety upgrades on a dangerous stretch of Northern Boulevard, from Honeywell Street to Broadway, beginning in July. During a five-year period ending in December 2014, the 1.3-mile corridor was the scene of one death and 329 injuries, including 43 pedestrians and 21 bicyclists, according to the DOT.
“Too many victims are killed or injured along Northern Boulevard due to unsafe pedestrian crossings,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “While we must continue the fight for safer streets, these necessary improvements will help ensure greater safety and a reduction in the tragedies that have become all too familiar.”
The project will also change traffic flow on several streets. Curb extensions and expanded triangles will be installed at 37th Street, 48th Street, Newtown Road and Woodside Avenue to provide safer crossings for pedestrians.
The project will include more than a dozen pedestrian islands and more crosswalks, while left turns will be banned at many intersections.
Community Board 1 approved the plan last week. The project, which the DOT says began with requests from City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), is expected to take two years to complete.
“I’m glad that DOT is finally taking action to make Northern Boulevard safer,” Van Bramer said. “Even one crash resulting in injury or death is too many; this corridor has seen 22 people killed or severely wounded over the course of five years. I fully support DOT’s proposed measures to calm traffic and save lives along this important corridor.”
Meanwhile, Astoria residents are celebrating the installation of a new traffic light at the dangerous intersection of 43rd Street and Astoria Boulevard South. The community fought for the light to slow down the heavy flow of traffic next to the Grand Central Parkway.
Previously there were no lights along Astoria Boulevard South between Steinway Street and 43rd Street. There is also low visibility at the corner for drivers making a right turn from 43rd Street onto Astoria Boulevard.
“This new light will improve traffic safety along Astoria Boulevard, especially for vehicles en route to the highway,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “The vast quantity of cars along the Astoria Boulevard thoroughfare, combined with the drivers at high speeds to get to the Grand Central and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, created a dangerous traffic situation. This new light will help ameliorate these issues.”
State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) brought along her 3½-year-old daughter Eleni, and thanked the city Department of Transportation for responding to the concerns of the community.
“This traffic light is one more step towards safer streets,” she said. “It will help residents of 43rd Street by slowing down speeding cars and it’s going to make drivers safer, too. That means fewer accidents and injuries which we can all appreciate.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr