As Center Blvd traffic grows, public demands safety measures
Dec. 24, By Christian Murray
Elected officials and community leaders are putting pressure on the Department of Transportation to put in crosswalks and increase signage on Center Boulevard as a means to protect pedestrians.
“The volume of people crossing the street continues to increase,” said Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2. “There are more residents in the area and the area is becoming a destination, with tour buses bringing people in to look at the great views of Manhattan.”
The recent opening of Hunters Point South Park, the rapid rate of development and the opening of new schools continues to see pedestrian and vehicular traffic rise, officials said.
“We have asked for cross walks, signs, lights down there for years…and they have not granted them,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
At a Transportation Committee meeting held by Community Board 2 earlier this month, Conley raised the issue with DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall, arguing that Center Blvd is dangerous.
Hall said that Center Boulevard did not require ‘stop controls’, since not enough motorists and pedestrians use it. These findings were based on DOT studies.
But Conley said after the meeting that DOT had to respond to the real experts and they are the people who live and work in the community, not people who go there and take a cursory look.
Doris Nowillo-Suda, who manages Riverview Restaurant & Lounge on the corner of 49th Avenue and Center Blvd, said that there is a real need for speed bumps, signage and cross walks.
She said she had noticed a lot more foot traffic–as well as cars–since the opening of Hunters Point South Park.
There have been some stones put down by 49th Avenue/Center Blvd. to create the sense of a cross walk, Conley said. However, drivers have little idea that it is there and don’t slow down, he added.
Conley said it is time for the DOT act. “People have complained for years about this,” he said.