Transportation officials want the “Boulevard of Death” to finally shed its ghastly name.
A protected bicycle lane and more pedestrian space will be added to a 1.3-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard in August as part of a three-year effort to overhaul street life on the highly trafficked corridor.
“As much as the city has improved the pedestrian crossings, there’s still a lot of work there to do to make them better,” city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told amNewYork.
Queens Boulevard has a reputation befitting a highway. There were 38 traffic deaths between 2003 and 2013, with more than 400 severe injuries, according to the DOT.
“Thanks to the work of the DOT, we are seeing significant improvements in traffic safety in Western Queens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street will keep the 80-foot main road in the middle, but will get up to five feet of pedestrian space on each side, widened medians and a protected bike lane separated from traffic where a buffer zone now exists, according to the designs.
Officials said the goal of the redesign, as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero street safety program, is to keep most traffic in the center of the boulevard and cut down on motorists using the slip lanes at high speeds to move between the service roads and main street.
“The slip lanes are a real complexity in a big roadway, with cars weaving in and out of them,” Trottenberg said.
By 2018, the city wants to spend $100 million to change the entire seven-mile length of Queens Boulevard. The DOT envisions leafy pedestrian malls with benches on each side of the main road, a similar style to Eastern and Ocean parkways in Brooklyn, which are large corridors that have wide, tree-lined walkways.
The DOT’s vision, Trottenberg said, is to take a bustling area with residential and commercial development and “knit it together across that big boulevard and make it feel safe and attractive.”
The full Queens Boulevard redesign is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $250 million “Great Streets” initiative that will also tackle unsafe conditions on Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Brooklyn’s Atlantic and Fourth avenues.
“His vision for Queens Boulevard, and the pace of this planned safety redesign, will set the tone for the transformation of dangerous streets across the five boroughs,” Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives, a street safety group, said of the mayor.