Oct. 3, 2018 By Tara Law
The Department of Transportation will host two public workshops this month to discuss a potential “comprehensive redesign” of Northern Boulevard, which has been plagued with pedestrian deaths over the last few years.
The workshops will focus on identifying street safety concerns, gathering community feedback, and discussing ways to restructure Northern Boulevard. Eight pedestrians have been killed along the thoroughfare since Jan. 2017, according to the DOT.
Four people have already been killed on Northern Boulevard this year, including 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero, who was struck by an 86-year-old driver near 70th Street on April 30. The most recent victim was a 70-year-old man, who was killed on 109th Street on Sept. 9.
Community members will have two opportunities to attend a workshop. The first will take place on Oct. 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Louis Armstrong Middle School, 32-02 Junction Blvd. The second will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 at P.S. Mary D. Carter, 50-05 31st Ave.
The recent spate of deaths on the roadway is especially noteworthy because Northern Boulevard has been a Vision Zero “priority corridor” since early 2014. The DOT has implemented a number of safety improvements on the boulevard in the years since, including a number of new pedestrian safety islands.
The DOT also conducted a walkthrough of the boulevard with elected officials after Ampuero’s death. The DOT has installed traffic calming measures in the vicinity of the crash, such as leading pedestrian intervals— which give pedestrians a few more seconds to cross the road— and new road markings.
The DOT said in a statement that despite the department’s “aggressive approach” to making the street safer, Northern Boulevard is “one of the City’s most challenging corridors.”
“We are still seeing too much loss of life and so DOT pledges to redouble our efforts to make Northern Boulevard safer, including engaging with the local community on a vision for a comprehensive roadway redesign,” a spokesperson said.
In recent months, the Boulevard has also become a new priority for street safety advocacy groups, including Transportation Alternatives.
In September, Transportation Alternatives went so far as to label Northern Boulevard as the “New Boulevard of Death,” referencing a longtime nickname for Queens Boulevard, which is another Vision Zero priority corridor.
Queens Boulevard was the site of many pedestrian deaths in the 1990s and early 2000s, including 18 deaths in 1997.
However, the DOT has rolled out a comprehensive redesign of Queens Boulevard over the last few years, which started installing bike lanes and traffic calming measure in 2015. No pedestrians have been killed on the boulevard since 2014.
Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives’ executive director, said in a Sept. 9 statement that the DOT should implement a redesign along Northern Boulevard that is similar to the Queens Boulevard project, which would include “safer intersection geometry and protected bike lanes.”
“Due to its car-oriented design and lack of safe accommodation for people, Northern Boulevard remains needlessly deadly for everyone who dares to use it — especially pedestrians and bicyclists,” White said.
For more information about the workshops or to request accessibility accommodations, contact John O’Neill at 212-839-2510 or [email protected].