Feb. 17, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
About three years after a teenager was killed in a collision at Thomson Avenue and 30th Street, the Department of Transportation is looking to redesign the streets and sidewalks along this crowded road.
The DOT’s proposed project would stretch along Thomson Avenue from Van Dam Street to Skillman Avenue, which the agency estimates sees thousands of cars and pedestrians during peak hours.
Under the proposal, Thomson Avenue’s south sidewalk, which runs adjacent to LaGuardia Community College and Bard High School and is near several others, would be expanded from 21 feet to 27 feet wide. Meanwhile the north sidewalk would shrink from 20 feet to 10 feet.
According to the DOT, the south sidewalk sees 2,000 pedestrians during peak hours, while food vendor trucks and pipe barriers further narrow the walkway. Along with widening the sidewalk, the DOT also proposes removing these barriers. The north sidewalk is comparatively underused by pedestrians and also allows vehicles to improperly park on it for loading and unloading, the DOT said.
The agency also wants to expand four of the six vehicle lanes on this corridor.
The lanes adjacent to the sidewalks in both directions would grow from nine feet to 10 feet. The lanes adjacent to the yellow line in both directions would grow from 10 feet to 11 feet.
In its proposal, the DOT said that the current lane widths are “substandard” for the roughly 2,000 cars that use them during morning and evening peak hours.
Neighbors have long been calling for upgrades to this road, especially following the death of a 16-year-old student in 2013, who was struck by a van that jumped the curb at Thomson Avenue and 30th Street. Many criticized the City at the time for what they saw as a preventable death.
In April 2014, LaGuardia Community College released a traffic report on the area, which recommended wider sidewalks. However, the report said this should be made possible by eliminating an eastbound traffic lane.
Nevertheless, LaGuardia President Gail Mellow spoke positively of the DOT’s current proposal.
“This is a great beginning that can make Thomson Avenue safer for our more than 50,000 students, as well as for our faculty and staff,” Mellow said in a statement.
“We strongly support widening the sidewalks in front of our campus buildings to reduce crowding during peak hours that can create dangerous situations given the fast moving bridge traffic on the street. We look forward to discussing this plan in depth with the New York City Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of all pedestrians in our neighborhood.
The DOT presented its proposal to the Community Board 2 Transportation Committee earlier this month.
Denise Keehan-Smith, who is the chair of the Transportation Committee, said that a vote was not taken on the committee level, and that the proposal will go to the full community board for a vote in March.