“Queens Boulevard is tragically legendary,” de Blasio said at the busy intersection of 61st Street and Queens Boulevard last Thursday. “For all the people that depend on this crucial road, life will change for the better.”
Joined by myriad elected and community officials, de Blasio announced that as part of his Vision Zero plan, the expansive roadway that opens up to eight lanes in certain places is getting a massive redesign with the first stretch of work commencing from Roosevelt Avenue to 71st Street.
That stretch, according to de Blasio, has seen 591 injured in crashes between 2009 and 2013 and six people killed.
The redesign will include a multitude of new safety measures, but perhaps the most important is protected bike lanes. The hope is to prevent another tragedy like the death of Asif Rahman in Feburary 2008 from happening again.
The 22-year-old Rahman was riding his bike along Queens Boulevard when he was struck and killed. His mother Lizi Rahman has long been an advocate for the protected bike lanes to give riders a chance to safely travel the busy roadway.
“All his dreams came to an end that day. After his death our house became silent, our lives changed,” Rahman said. “If there was a bike lane, perhaps my son would still be alive.”
In addition to the protected bike lanes, the project calls for safer crossings and more crosswalks for pedestrians, expanded medians with trees and plantings, and reconfigured intersections to deter speeding and other dangerous behavior.
Some of the key changes include reconfigured access to the BQE tunnel, the elimination of low-volume slip lanes, and making the service roads only one lane in each direction, while the center lanes have three to encourage motorists to use the center roadway for through traffic.
“After decades of crashes, this corridor will be redesigned to become a safer, greener and more attractive corridor for residents and businesses,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “I looked forward to seeing more cyclists enjoy a new protected bike lane, pedestrians confidently crossing, and motorists safely traversing through the world's borough.”
Operational work for he first phase of the project is expected to be complete sometime in the fall, with capital improvements coming in the year 2017. After that, DOT will begin work to redesign Queens Boulevard from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue, and then Eliot Avenue to Jamaica Avenue.