Queens Boulevard -- a dangerous thoroughfare known locally as "The Boulevard of Death" -- is undergoing a $100 million makeover to prevent future pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, New York City officials announced Thursday.
The upgrades include more crosswalks, protected bicycle lanes, expanded medians and reconfigured intersections to encourage slower driving, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Department Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said at a news conference in Woodside. Shovels are now hitting the ground, the mayor said.
"Queens Boulevard is tragically legendary," de Blasio said. "We all became used to the phrase 'The Boulevard of Death.' ... So now work has begun to turn Queens Boulevard into a boulevard of life."
Since 1990, 185 people have been killed on Queens Boulevard, most of them pedestrians.
"Behind every number is a human and a family and the human cost of inaction," de Blasio said.
The first phase of the project under the de Blasio administration's Vision Zero initiative will target a 1.3-mile stretch between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street in Woodside. Work will last through October.
Between 2009 and 2013, six people died on the stretch.
Lizi Rahman, whose 22-year-old son Asif was killed while riding his bicycle on Queens Boulevard in 2008, said she was grateful that lives would be saved going forward.
"If there was a bike lane, perhaps my son would still be alive," she said.
Asif Rahman loved spoken-word poetry and beatboxing and aspired to be a music teacher, she said, adding, "After his death, our house became silent."