By Bill Parry
Officials at LaGuardia Community College have been pressing the city for safety improvements along a dangerous three-way intersection in front of their Long Island City campus where a 16-year-old high school student was struck and killed in 2013.
Tenzin Drudak, a student from Tibet who lived in Woodside and attended the nearby Applied Communications High School, was struck by a speeding motorist who jumped the curb on Thomson Avenue, killing Drudak and injuring four others.
Mayor Bill de Blasio allocated $17 million to redesign the area where Thomson Avenue, Queens Boulevard and Van Dam Street create a dangerous mix of vehicles coming off the Queensboro Bridge and driving along crowded sidewalks filled with pedestrians and cyclists from LaGuardia Community College, Bard High School and the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. The city Department of Transportation did implement some measures following Drudak’s death, including the elimination of a series of turns and the creation of a 550-square-foot pedestrian space that blocked the right turn from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue.
LaGuardia Community College wanted more to protect its more than 50,000 students as well as their faculty and staff.
On Tuesday night, the DOT presented its latest plan to redesign the streets during a public presentation on campus. The agency proposed adding pedestrian connectivity through crosswalks, pedestrian ramps and signals with implementation in late fall 2018 or early spring 2019. The DOT would also investigate signal timing improvements and upgrading traffic patterns. In addition, the agency said it would enhance sidewalks with upgraded materials, furniture and landscaping, improve pedestrian safety at intersections with high visibility and, if possible, raise crosswalks and would make all curb ramps ADA-compliant.
“The visuals from Tuesday night’s meeting are concepts in development,” a DOT spokesman said. “We were happy to go to LaGuardia Community College for this discussion, from which we gained valuable insights, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with all community stakeholders. We are evaluating ways to expand Vision Zero treatments along this corridor, including rapid response safety enhancements to the intersection of Thomson, Van Dam and Queens Boulevard. We are looking at corridor-wide safety improvements at intersections with high crash histories, including the intersection of Van Dam/Thomson/Queens Boulevard and the intersection of Thomson/Skillman Avenue.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr