By Naeisha Rose
Laurelton, a Vision Zero Priority Corridor in southeast Queens, will receive new safety features spanning 1.5 miles from Springfield Boulevard to Hook Creek Boulevard by the end of the summer.
City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and elected officials from the area unveiled the beginning stages of the safety improvement project, which also stretches along Merrick Boulevard.
Under the Queens Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, priority corridors are strips of roads where a number of pedestrians are killed or severely injured in car accidents.
Between 2010 and 2014 there were seven pedestrians injured and two fatalities on Merrick Boulevard, which intersects Springfield and Hook Creek boulevards, according to the commissioner.
The security structures should lower the risks of injuries and death along the very active boulevard, which is used as an auxiliary route for the Belt Parkway, Trottenberg said.
“Merrick Boulevard is too often used as an alternative to the Belt Parkway. Merrick Boulevard is no highway,” Trottenberg said at the July 19 unveiling. “It’s a major commercial corridor through a wonderful residential neighborhood. Under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program, we are bringing new crosswalks, median refuges, and markings to a street that all the residents of Laurelton – pedestrians and drivers alike – can enjoy safely.”
Councilman Donovan Richards(D-Laurelton) was excited about the new additions for the public.
“Pedestrians should never have to risk their life crossing the street, but for years cars have been the priority on Merrick Boulevard,” Richards said. “Merrick will become the pedestrian-friendly boulevard that our community needs and deserves. I look forward to our continued partnership as we look to increase safety in all areas of District 31.”
There will be 17 new median tip extensions, parking lane stripes, and new high-visibility crosswalks, according to the DOT.
State Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) agreed with Donovan that the safety measures were necessary.
“The new safety enhancements along Merrick Boulevard will provide additional space for pedestrians to safely navigate this busy corridor,” said Hyndman. “These upgrades will help keep my constituents safe without disrupting traffic flow. I look forward to the additional Vision Zero upgrades and streetscape projects for the community.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose