City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced Friday, July 29, that work has been completed on an intersection redesign to improve safety at Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park along the Queens and Brooklyn border.
At the request of local advocacy groups, DOT implemented upgrades to the intersection of Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard to transform a highway-like intersection into a pedestrian-friendly crossing that calmed traffic and added a new concrete sidewalk.
The DOT also painted a curb extension to reduce pedestrian crossing time and slow vehicles turning off of Vermont Place.
“In the heat of summer, communities like Ocean Hill, East New York, Cypress Hills and Richmond Hill need and deserve safe access to high-quality parks as much as anyone else,” Rodriguez said. “This project will help ensure residents in these neighborhoods can safely walk to the beautiful grounds of Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir. We thank the advocates who tirelessly championed these upgrades and we look forward to continuing our intersection improvements across the five boroughs.”
The upgrade fills gaps in the DOT’s pedestrian network and offers safer pedestrian access to Highland Park, which is situated on a high plateau offering sweeping views of the Rockaways and the Atlantic Ocean.
“Highland Park is a two-borough treasure, and we’re thrilled that it’s now safer than ever for pedestrians to access thanks to the DOT’s latest project,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said. “We thank DOT for their great work adding a new sidewalk and curb extension to this intersection, helping pedestrians feel safer visiting this wonderful green space and ultimately expanding green space access for New Yorkers.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the intersection upgrades go a long way toward improving safety and overall quality of life for area residents.
“Those seeking to walk to utilize the beautiful Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir for recreation and exercise, or who are just looking to walk in this wonderful neighborhood, can now do so more safely and with more peace of mind.”
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar said the traffic-calming measures were necessary for parkgoers.
“The intersection of Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard, where there have been at least 20 traffic injuries, will now have a pedestrian-friendly crossing for everyone visiting the beautiful Ridgewood Reservoir,” Rajkumar said. “Highland Park benefits the safety, health, mental wellness climate and air quality of my constituents in Ridgewood, and the redesign will provide an underserved community with green space.”
The reservoir was built in 1859 to supply the independent city of Brooklyn with drinking water that came from streams in Queens and Nassau counties. After New York City switched to reservoirs in the Catskills in the 1950s, the Ridgewood Reservoir was decommissioned and drained in 1989, becoming a lush and dense forest that is now home to more than 150 species of birds.
“Our parks and green spaces are the jewels of our city and it’s important that everyone has safe, convenient access to them,” Councilman Robert Holden said. “That’s why I applaud the DOT for improving this intersection and allowing more families to safely enjoy Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir.”