The intersection of Conduit and 79th Street, where two pedestrians were struck and killed since 2018, now features new sidewalks and a new traffic signal to create a safer pedestrian crossing between North and South Conduit, where area residents frequently cross to access the Linden Center shopping mall.
The Ozone Park Residents Block Association began advocating for critical safety upgrades at the dangerous crossing after the first casualty in 2018 and remained persistent for nearly half a decade. The civic group intensified its efforts after 24-year-old Kimberly Ortega was struck and killed at the location in 2021.
“The Ozone Park Residents Block Association is proud to have led the fight to improve a bad crossing that took the life of Ozone Park resident Kimberly Ortega on March 4, 2021,” OZPKRBA President Sam Esposito said. “We want to thank the Mayor’s Community Affairs unit and all the divisions of the DOT for their quick work to help prevent any more fatalities.”
Elected officials and community leaders applauded the improvements along the dangerous stretch of North and South Conduit Avenue.
“I have been advocating for these traffic safety measures for years, going back to when I was a member of Community Board 10 and president of the civic that represents that area,” Council Member Joann Ariola said. “With these traffic safety measures in place, we can hopefully avoid any more preventable tragedies like the ones that have already devastated the neighborhood in the past.”
The newly paved walkway enhances safety and accessibility of a popular footpath, formalizing a “desire line” worn into the grass across the wide median between North and South Conduit avenues. At the South Conduit Avenue crosswalk, DOT also installed a painted curb extension to further shorten the pedestrian crossing. The dirt path illustrated how pedestrians had regularly used the route of the new sidewalk, despite the prior lack of signals and crosswalks.
“The safety of my constituents is my first priority and through the partnership with our local civics and community leaders we were able to elevate our needs to the highest level,” Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “The two tragic deaths at this location were two too many, and we honor their memories through this new sidewalk and traffic signal. I am hopeful that through these improvements we will never experience this situation again and residents can walk safely.”
DOT has instituted several safety improvements along the corridor in recent years, including new speed cameras, a reduction in the speed limit, and several new pedestrian head-start signals at major crossings. The roadway links Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Linden Boulevard to the Belt Parkway and JFK Airport.
“The historically dangerous Conduit corridor has been in desperate need of a redesign for years. It’s why my office, the office of Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and many concerned local residents came together this year to push for new safety measures, and it’s why I’m thrilled to see the creation of this new pedestrian crossing,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This pedestrian walkway is a major safety improvement for the neighborhood and will help prevent needless traffic-related injuries or deaths, like the two tragic fatalities this community endured at this very intersection in 2018. Improvements like this show true commitment to making our streets as safe as possible, especially for vulnerable pedestrians.”
The chair of Community Board 10 praised the DOT for the improvements.
“Community Board 10 appreciates the work done in conjunction with the Board over a period of years to develop, fund, and implement needed safety upgrades in an area of our Howard Beach/Lindenwood neighborhood,” CB10 Chair Betty Braton said. “The North and South Conduit roadways between the Brooklyn border and Crossbay Boulevard have been roads where we have had many crashes as they are part of one of our district’s Vision Zero priority corridors. This project is one more step towards making the corridor safer for pedestrians and drivers. We look forward to additional safety upgrades along this dangerous corridor and on other dangerous corridors in our district.”