Commissioner Trottenberg Reluctantly Says 'Transportation Alternatives' Declaration On Northern Boulevard In Queens Is Correct

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are searching for the driver who struck and killed a 70-year-old man on Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst. This latest incident has prompted a local transportation group to call the roadway the “New Boulevard of Death.”

CBS2’s Andrea Grymes spoke to residents and advocates who say more has to be done to make the boulevard safer.

Cars flew by as pedestrians try to safely cross Northern Boulevard, just steps away from memorial flowers and an NYPD sign alerting people to last weekend’s hit-and-run.

(Credit: CBS2)

“It’s like playing chicken in the crosswalk. You’re hoping they’re not gonna inch up close to you,” one person said.

“Very, very dangerous,” another person said.

Investigators said at around 5 a.m. on Sunday a 70-year-old man crossing Northern Boulevard in the intersection was hit by two cars and killed. Police said the first driver took off, but the second stayed at the scene and was not charged.

“For Queens, I want to make the distinction — this is the ‘Boulevard of Death,’ hands down,” said Juan Restrepo of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

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Restrepo said the statistics prove Northern Boulevard deserves that notorious moniker that used to describe Queens Boulevard.

“This year alone, four pedestrian deaths. Last year, five pedestrian deaths,” Restrepo said.

He said the city must come up with more safety enhancements.

The Department of Transportation said it has made improvements to Northern Boulevard, but acknowledged more needs to be done.

When asked if Northern Boulevard is the new “Boulevard of Death,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said, “we have tragically seen a number of fatalities recently, but look, the city has done a lot of work over the last five years on Northern Boulevard.”

The city has added more pedestrian islands, and changed the timing of the lights in spots to give pedestrians a head start in crossing.

“What we’ve been talking about is engaging with the community on potentially a comprehensive redesign of the whole street,” Trottenberg added.

She said she hopes to start those discussions this fall, and come up with a list of improvements that can be quickly implemented. Larger changes could take years.

There’s no word on the make and model of the car police are searching for in that latest hit-and-run.