April 1, 2014 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation is about to make some significant improvements to a Woodside intersection where an 8-year-old boy was fatally struck in December, as part of its push to increase pedestrian safety under Vision Zero.
Noshat Nahian, who was walking to PS 152 on the last day of school before the holidays, was killed at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street when he was hit by an unlicensed truck driver. Since then elected officials have been calling on the DOT to produce a comprehensive study of the intersection as well as redesign it.
The DOT’s improvements aim to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the six-lane roadway. Meanwhile, they will also increase driver visibility and change the flow of traffic.
“Our renewed focus on pedestrian safety under Vision Zero makes locations such as Northern Boulevard an immediate priority,” wrote Dalila Hall, in a letter addressed to elected officials. “We have developed a safety plan based on the crash data, traffic and pedestrian volumes,” she said.
Hall said the DOT plans to construct two pedestrian islands, put in place long walk signals and paint bright “school” markings on the four crosswalks that surround the intersection. The pedestrian islands will provide a refuge for slower pedestrians who cross Northern Boulevard, while the markings will increase visibility for drivers.
The DOT also plans to reduce parking spaces on the northeast corner of 61st and Northern Boulevard to improve visibility for motorists making southbound left turns from 61st Street to eastbound Northern Boulevard.
The DOT is also banning the westbound left turn from Northern Boulevard to the southbound 61st Street to reduce danger in the south crosswalk.
“The traffic safety improvements announced by the Department of Transportation at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard in Woodside will make that area safer for everyone,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has worked with school leaders, parents and the community to get these measures approved.
“I am glad to see the city stepping up safety measures at this deadly intersection, though I only wish these plans had been completed before the life of Noshat Nahian was so tragically lost,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris, in response to the announcement.
Gianaris has pointed out in the past that there have been five pedestrian deaths on Northern Blvd (within Western Queens) since 2010.