DOT updates traffic controls at Kew Gardens, Forest Hills intersection

Kew Gardens and Forest Hills residents had long expressed safety concerns for pedestrians trying to cross the intersection at Park Lane N. and Union Turnpike. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Hevesi’s office)

Following calls for enhanced traffic controls at the Park Lane North and Union Turnpike intersection on the border of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has updated traffic controls in accordance with the community’s requests. The updated controls will provide pedestrians more time to cross the intersection, which spans two service roads on Union as well as an overpass of the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

Queens Community Board 9 had initially flagged safety concerns with the DOT regarding the intersection last March, but the agency determined updated controls were unnecessary following an initial investigation. The community submitted a request to the DOT last November asking for either the timing of the traffic lights to be changed or a leading pedestrian interval to be installed prior to that being denied in March. These prompted community members to organize a rally there on April 14.

Shortly after the rally, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, Community Board 9 Chair Sherry Algredo, Community Board 6 Chair Heather Dimitriadis and District Manager Frank Gulluscio sent a letter requesting the agency reconsider its initial determination. In their letter to the DOT, the community leaders asked for the implementation of lights and crosswalks with better timing and long-term solutions that would help protect drivers, bikers and walkers in the area.

“We’re very grateful DOT heard our concerns,” Hevesi said. “This intersection is frequented by seniors, kids walking to school, runners, families and people who deserve to go about their lives without worrying about being able to cross in time. It’s a victory for the community anytime we can improve safety for drivers, bikers and walkers alike.”

“I want to thank DOT for adjusting the timing of the traffic controls to create a safer intersection for pedestrians,” Community Board 9 District Manager James McClelland said. “However, we should continuously monitor this area and if warranted employ additional timing and other safety measures.”