By Bill Parry
The NYPD has stepped up enforcement at a dozen of the borough’s busiest intersections as part of a citywide crackdown on motorists who block the box, which was launched Monday during an announcement from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Drivers who enter intersections without sufficient space on the other side create a cascading effect on traffic and pose a danger to pedestrians, who cannot cross streets safely.
“Late last year, we announced a series of initiatives designed to address congestion issues around New York City, a symptom of the city’s record population and economic vitality,” de Blasio said. “Blocking the box is one area where focused NYPD enforcement can and will make a big difference to keep traffic moving around hot spots in every borough.”
As part of Clear Intersections, the city’s Department of Transportation has installed special markings and updated signage at key intersections to make drivers aware of the increased enforcement. The city chose intersections along major routes leading to river crossings, highway on-ramps, and commercial centers. The NYPD is adding 50 uniformed officers to enforce block the box violations, where violators will face minimum fines of $115 and possible points that can lead to the loss of a driver’s license.
“Drivers who block intersections are contributing to overall congestion, and their disregard of this particular traffic rule comes at the expense of other drivers including emergency vehicles,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said. “The NYPD’s enforcement efforts will reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety. Motorists should be advised that officers will be out in force issuing summonses to those who block the box.”
Among the intersections where enforcement will be increased in the borough are Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue; Northern Boulevard and Queens Boulevard in Long Island City; 71st Avenue and Austin Street in Forest Hills; Metropolitan Avenue and 60th Street in Ridgewood; and Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing.
“Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue is one of the busiest intersections in New York City, and ‘blocking the box’ by cars, trucks, and even buses is one of the largest contributors to traffic congestion,” Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said. “Cracking down on these violations is a necessary step to unclogging the essential arteries of our city.”
Other intersections in Queens that be under scrutiny are Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, Astoria Boulevard and 31st St., 21st St. and 49th Avenue, Laurel Hill Boulevard and 65th Pl., Queens Midtown Expressway and Grand Avenue, 37th Ave. and 138th St., and Queens Plaza South and 28th St.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), whose district includes western Queens and parts of the Bronx, applauded the de Blasio administration’s leadership in keeping the city moving forward.
“Ask any commuter from Queens and the Bronx and they’ll tell you that New York City gridlock is a major impediment to their daily lives,” Crowley said. “Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to increase enforcement of block the box violations will provide tangible relief to New Yorkers who commute in and out of Manhattan every day.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr