NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People who work and live in the Woodside section of Queens call Northern Boulevard the “Boulevard of Death.”
At least 10 people have died on the street since the start of 2017.
CBS2 first highlighted the problem last month. Now, reporter Marc Liverman has learned how the city is trying to make the road safer.
Just standing at an intersection for a few minutes one can see just how dangerous Northern Boulevard is. It’s almost like three intersections in one. Once the lights changes, cars come flying by. there are lots of cars flying by. Pedestrians told Liverman on Wednesday that enough is enough.
They aren’t just focused on getting to work; they’re focused on staying alive.
“(It’s) very dangerous,” Flatbush resident Alison Reid said. “My biggest fear is getting hit by a car or a truck. It’s scary. I just want to make it home to my children every day, so I just wait, even if it takes another extra 10 seconds or so before I cross. I just wait.”
“The cars in the area … it’s like a danger zone here,” Valley Stream resident Isabelle Pabon added.
“For so many years, to me, this was a hard place to cross. You get off the subway, you try to cross. Walking. And if you’re young, you can do it, but I’m an older woman,” a Woodside resident said.
Cars race past as walkers — some with strollers — try to get across safely. Northern Boulevard is an 11-mile stretch that is notorious for speeding cars and pedestrian that get hit by them. Recently, a 70-year-old man crossing the boulevard was hit by two cars and killed. Police said the first driver took off, but the other stayed at the scene and was not charged.
It’s a problem the Department of Transportation and NYPD hope to put an end to. DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg held a press conference on Wednesday “to talk about a comprehensive redesign of the street,” and announce a plan for public input to make it safer. One idea is to have a longer light so people have more time to cross.
Residents had other proposals.
“I would love to see on every single corner curb extensions,” said Clarence Eckerson Jr., of Jackson Heights.
“They need the speed bumps so the people will slow down,” added Darrin Gordon of Woodside.
Police also announced increased enforcement, all part of the Vision Zero Initiative.
“It can be speed enforcement. Hazardous violations includes failure to yield to pedestrians,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said.
The first of the public workshops will be held next Monday in Jackson Heights.