In the wake of two recent fatal car accidents in the same month, lawmakers and residents are asking for the city and state to take a closer look at a major local roadway.
At an Aug. 14 press conference, Councilman Barry Grodenchik, Assemblyman David Weprin and local leaders gathered at the Grand Central Parkway’s 188th Street exit to call on the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) and New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) to study the roadway for ways to improve traffic safety.
The officials recently penned a letter to the commissioners of both agencies outlining their concerns and wrote to the NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas M. Chan to request additional highway enforcement.
While allegedly driving drunk with several passengers after celebrating a wedding on July 16, a New Jersey man caused a deadly accident on the major roadway after sideswiping another vehicle along the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway near the 188th Street exit. The driver, Andrew Shakespeare, then lost control of his vehicle and swerved across three lanes of traffic, causing a chain reaction crash.
The fatal early morning crash proceeded to cause traffic all day long, Grodenchik said. This crash, coupled with another recent fatal crash on July 27, are signs that the roadway need to be reexamined, he continued.
“This is a roadway that is almost 100 years old,” Grodenchik said. “It’s time to take a fresh look.”
While he acknowledged he is not a traffic or engineering expert, the lawmaker’s top suggestion was the installation of a jersey barrier, a concrete or plastic barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic.
Weprin agreed that a jersey barrier is a priority.
“Certainly, we want to make sure that its very difficult, if not impossible, for someone who loses control of their car to go from one side of the highway to the other side, which of course resulted in the tragic deaths of those individuals [in the July 16 accident],” Weprin said.
“I’m here to support the jersey barriers, rumble strips and any other safety we can have in terms of traffic enforcement, so we can have safety for all of our constituents,” Community Board 13 District Manager Mark McMillan said.
Kevin Forrestal, president of the Queens Civic Congress, and Michelle Shing, board member for the Holliswood Civic Association, also voiced their support for a comprehensive study.
With regards to police enforcement, Grodenchik added, the police maintains a strong presence on the nearby Clearview Expressway. He would like to see an equal presence on the Grand Central Parkway, he said.
QNS reached out to NYS DOT and NYC DOT for comment and is awaiting a response.