By Bill Parry
A chaotic section of Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights called a Vision Zero priority location by the city’s Department of Transportation has received much-needed traffic calming measures. Motorists will no longer be allowed to make a left-hand turn onto Roosevelt Avenue from the northbound lane of Elmhurst Avenue, and with vehicles no longer lining up for this turn, DOT was able to install two signalized crosswalks at the corners of 90th Street, 50 feet away.
The busy intersection under the elevated No. 7 subway line also received a new traffic light.
“This particular area has a large amount of foot and vehicular traffic, and unfortunately, in the past few years, two residents were killed after being hit by vehicles as they crossed the street,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “It is my hope that these crucial safety improvements will help reduce and eliminate traffic-related injuries. I also want to thank area residents and the community for bringing attention to the busy intersection and the urgent need to redesign it.”
In addition to the two fatalities which occurred in 2013, there were two severe pedestrian injuries between 2010 and 2014. After Peralta and the community requested the improvements, DOT conducted a study in the area and made the changes.
“DOT is dedicated to making the streets as safe as possible, especially along popular commercial corridors that double as transit hubs that serve thousands of people each day,” DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. ““We took a fresh look at this intersection and used valuable feedback from local stakeholders on their experiences trying to cross at this intersection. This new signal, newly installed crosswalks and modified traffic patterns all combine to make this street safe for everyone.”
Meanwhile, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) was successful in securing a new traffic safety measure called Leading Pedestrian Intervals along 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, which gives pedestrians a head start before vehicles get the light to make turns into the crosswalks.
Pedestrians will now have an additional seven seconds to cross the street without any vehicular movement.
In February, more than 150 concerned residents packed the Jackson Heights Jewish Center for a safety town hall meeting after 67-year-old Henry Boimel was struck and killed crossing 37th Avenue at 76th Street.
Following the event, Dromm wrote the DOT demanding the new measure, which the agency began installing during the last two weeks.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr