Queens residents will have three chances this month to speak out about the future of Northern Boulevard, otherwise known by some activists as “The New Boulevard of Death.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will be holding public workshops in western Queens to receive community concerns about the boulevard, and gather ideas on how to increase safety along the roadway where so many tragedies have occurred in recent years.
The first of the three public workshops is set to take place on Oct. 15 at Louis Armstrong Middle School, 32-02 Junction Blvd., East Elmhurst. The second will take place on Oct. 22 at the same time at P.S. 151, 50-05 31st Ave., Woodside, and the third will be held on Oct. 29 at P.S. 166, 33-09 35th Ave., Long Island City. All of the workshops begin at 6:30 p.m.
“We know that around daylight savings and Halloween more kids start getting killed,” said Cristina Furlong, a Jackson Heights resident and founder of the transit advocacy group Make Queens Safer. For Furlong, change can’t come soon enough.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not praying that someone doesn’t get killed on that street,” she added.
Since 2012, 13 pedestrians have been killed on Northern Boulevard, making it one of the most dangerous streets in the city. Just this year, four pedestrians have been killed on the western segment of the boulevard, between Queens Plaza and the Grand Central Parkway. A number of deaths have involved children such as Giovanni Ampuero.
On April 28, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed the 9-year-old as he crossed the boulevard with his mother, making him the sixth child to be killed while crossing Northern Boulevard since 2013. Both mother and son were in the crosswalk and had right of way; the driver was later arrested and charged.
Community members and law-makers alike have expressed a desire to see Northern Boulevard change to accommodate the city’s constantly growing capacity.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm has been vocal about his desire to see the boulevard changed to a more pedestrian-friendly roadway, as reported by Streetsblog. The council member would like to see the city change Northern Boulevard for the better like it did with Queens Boulevard, the original ‘Boulevard of Death.’