A day before the city’s Board of Elections certified his victory in last month’s Democratic primary, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards was in Laurelton Monday, July 19, announcing the installation of a series of street lights along Merrick Boulevard that will greatly enhance visibility along the major thoroughfare in southeast Queens.
Parts of Merrick Boulevard lacked street lighting altogether until the new system began to be installed. The 120 new lighting units will dramatically improve safety along a 1.2-mile stretch between Springfield Boulevard and 242nd Street replacing old, low-quality fixtures, according to Richards.
“The Laurelton community has long said ‘let there be light’ along Merrick Boulevard, and thankfully the installation of these street lights is making this wish come true,” Richards said. “The new lighting along Merrick Boulevard will put an end to the poor lighting that negatively impacted pedestrian and vehicular safety along this busy roadway.”
The new street lights are being installed using the $1.188 million in funding that Richards allocated when he was a member of the City Council as part of the 2018 budget.
“Everyone who walks, bikes, drives or rides along Merrick Boulevard will have a safer, more pleasant, and literally brighter experience thanks to these new street lights,” Richards said.
As part of the upgrade of Merrick Boulevard’s lighting, several dozen decorative Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority poles are being installed by the city Department of Transportation. The TBTA poles were introduced in the 1950s for mid-20th-century bridge construction projects such as the old Triborough Bridge, which is now known as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in Astoria.
Those TBTA poles replaced wooden lamp posts that lit parkways during the 1920s and ‘30s. The teardrop and shielded teardrop lighting units on these poles combine with the old-fashioned look of the poles themselves to produce a historic-looking aesthetic along Merrick Boulevard.
“We are grateful to Borough President Richards, who funded these beautiful and distinctive new lamp poles along Merrick Boulevard as a council member and to Community Board 13 and local residents who supported this effort,” DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “The energy-efficient LED lighting enhances safety and improves the streetscape and quality of life for all who use this corridor.”
The 120 LED lighting units, 81 which have already been installed, will help the city conserve energy and save money on maintenance costs.