A progressive, insurgent Assembly candidate from Jackson Heights has presented a radical plan to end the carnage of Northern Boulevard, the most dangerous roadway in Queens.
Jessica González-Rojas presented her bold plan surrounded by community leaders, small business owners and transportation advocates at 80th Street and Northern Boulevard, where 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed in 2012.
“We must end the ‘Boulevard of Death’ once and for all,” González-Rojas said. “I am running for New York State Assembly to be a leader in confronting the major challenges facing our community. I am willing to fight for a better future with cleaner air, safer streets and faster commutes. We can build a coalition of community members to bring about transformative change and improve the lives of everyone.”
Her plan called Green New Northern, would restrict access to the thoroughfare to only buses, emergency vehicles between Queens Plaza and 114th Street. It would allow for Northern Boulevard to run express bus service to Manhattan, safer crossing for students and seniors, and reduced air pollution from cars on a 4.3-mile stretch from the Grand Central Parkway to Queens Plaza, where there have been 2,783 reported crashes since 2017 injuring 73 cyclists, 129 pedestrians and 549 motorists, with six pedestrian deaths, she said.
González-Rojas will challenge Assemblyman Michael DenDekker who she accused of being supportive of the car culture. DenDekker has not faced a primary or general election opponent since he was sent to Albany in 2008.
“I have not seen the entirety of the plan, but as I have said before, everything is on the table when it comes to pedestrian safety, combating climate change and improving bus transit,” DenDekker said. “From what I heard about the plan, I believe others have proposed similar suggestions to the New York City Department of Transportation. I will reserve judgement until NYC DOT comes out with the results of their study on the Northern Boulevard redesign.”
González-Rojas noted that nearly two dozen schools are within walking distance of Northern Boulevard and that more than 2,500 young children are endangered simply by walking to school.
“As a small-business owner on Northern Boulevard, we are very aware of the dangers this highway poses to our community. It has physically divided the neighborhood for years and has caused many tragic and needless deaths,” Queensboro Restaurant Owner Dudly Stewart said. “It is time to focus on pedestrians, and not cars. All of the family-owned, local businesses on Northern Boulevard will benefit from having less traffic speeding through our neighborhoods. Improving bus service, creating bike lanes, and slowing traffic so that pedestrians can finally shop and stroll along the boulevard will be much safer and much better for business.”
As he awaits the DOT redesign plan, DenDekker points out the stretch of Northern Boulevard in question crosses several district lines from Long Island City to Corona.
“I can only speak to the stretch of Northern Boulevard within my district, which is between Junction Boulevard and 56th Street,” DenDekker said. “I believe other elected officials on the city, state and federal levels that represent other parts of Northern Boulevard will also have to be consulted.”