June 5, 2015 By Christian Murray
The configuration of Queens Boulevard is about to undergo significant change following the approval of the Department of Transportation’s traffic safety plan by Community Board 2 last night.
The Community Board unanimously approved the DOT’s plan that will add protected bike lanes and a pedestrian path to the middle of Queens Blvd—as well as change the traffic flow in order to make the corridor safer.
The DOT’s goal is to redo the entire 7-mile Queens Blvd stretch, which it is breaking down into three phases.
The first phase deals with changing the section of Queens Blvd between Roosevelt Ave. and 73rd St, which the community board weighed in on last night.
The second and third phases focus on those areas farther east and will need to be approved by the respective community boards in those neighborhoods.
The section between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street is the most dangerous portion of Queens Blvd, according to the DOT, with six fatalities between 2009 and 2013.
The number of lanes will not be affected by the plan. The three travel lanes in the middle of the boulevard will remain and so too will the two lanes on the service roads.
However, the DOT is creating room for protected bike lanes (5 feet wide), a pedestrian pathway and additional greenery. The department is inserting them where the median between the service roads and the main roads currently is.
The DOT plan also calls for restricting vehicles from switching between the main travel lanes and the service roads. For instance, the DOT has removed access at 55th Street for vehicles to switch between the main lanes and the service road.
Furthermore, where access is provided between the main travel lanes and the service roads there will be stop signs reducing the speed that motorists can go onto the service road.
The DOT is focused heavily on making sure that drivers don’t weave in and out of the service roads to speed up their travel time.
The redesign will initially involve street markings but it will become permanent when the DOT gets $100 million in capital funding in 2018.
The Community Board’s approval was a significant step in the department’s bid to revamp the corridor since DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced it was doing so in March.
“Community Board 2’s unanimous vote tonight is a big step toward turning Queens Blvd into the Boulevard of life,” Trottenberg said in a statement.
Before the vote, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer spoke at the board meeting and voiced his strong support for the plan. “We have a unique opportunity to transform the boulevard…,” he said. ”Years ago people thought there was nothing we could do about it.”