March 14, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Department of Transportation will embark on a study of Center Boulevard and 5th Street in Hunters Point to see if traffic treatments could potentially be implemented along those roadways.
DOT officials at last night’s Hunters Point Civic Association meeting said the studies will begin sometime this spring.
The initiative comes after renewed requests for traffic calming measures along the 10-block waterfront boulevard were made by the civic group’s President Brent O’Leary and by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City). The civic group presented a 13-page document to the DOT on problem areas and potential solutions on the two throughways in December, while Van Bramer called on the agency to implement safety measures there last week.
As for 5th Street, the DOT is looking to see if it can become a full one-way street, a proposal that stems from Community Board 2. The street is almost entirely one-way, save for a near two-block portion toward Borden Avenue.
Calls to put more traffic calming measures along Center Boulevard, however, go years back.
Most of the concerns for the boulevard involve speeding cars, the growing number of families with children living in the area, the densely-packed Hunters Point park, and the additional schools the roadway will see in coming years. The boulevard currently sees stop signs and a couple of brick and painted crosswalks.
“We want to take additional data, additional counts, at the intersections that the civic, the council member, and the community board have flagged for us as being majors concerns,” said Albert Silvestri, the Queens Deputy DOT Commissioner. “Once we’re done with that, we’d like to come back to the community with some possible treatments that could address some of the concerns.”
Silvestri said the DOT has “heard loud and clear for quite some time” of the community’s concerns on Center Boulevard, 5th Street, and the avenues that cross it. He also explained the process by which the agency handles requests for traffic calming measures.
“They send out an engineer to review,” Silvestri said. “What they’re looking for is volume. They’re looking for vehicle volume, pedestrian volume, cyclist volume—all types of modes.”
He added that engineers also look for conflicts, and take data in AM and PM peak hours, weekdays, and weekends.
“We don’t just go out 3 am and say ‘nobody’s there’ and write a letter and close it out,” Silvestri said. “It’s a pretty lengthy, drawn out, data-driven review.”
In addition, Center Boulevard’s “T-intersection” configuration, which does not produce cross traffic, means a lower volume of cars that don’t reach DOT requirements for all way stops, Silvestri said.
Still, the agency said they’re “looking to throw everything we have” at the concerns.
“We’re fully aware that is a community where people live and work, and they want to go to the park, and they want to be able to cross safely,” Silvestri said.
In a prepared statement, Brent O’ Leary said, “The community has been loud and clear on the danger and we appreciate the DOT listening and working with us, but now is the time for action. We need measures ASAP before another tragedy happens.”
Matt Wallace, Chief of Staff for Van Bramer’s office, said at the meeting that the boulevard desperately needs new traffic measures of any kind, even if the conditions don’t meet DOT requirements for them.
“It is the inconsistency and the expectations of pedestrians as they’re crossing the street that leads to a dangerous situation,” Wallace said. “And the fact that the Department of Transportation—after seven-and-a-half years of Councilmember Van Bramer’s advocacy— believes that there’s nothing that needs to be done beyond a couple of stop signs is just ludicrous to me.”
The DOT has studied Center Boulevard several times over the years. In 2014, the agency installed stop signs and pedestrian crosswalks on 48th and 49th Avenues along Center Boulevard.
Oh, please. Too many people in this area expect the roadways here to resemble quiet suburban cul de sacs, where many of the most frightened LIC residents grew up. Surprise! This is a loud, busy, obnoxious, crowded and at times absolute nonsensical city. Center Boulevard and 5th Street are comparatively country lanes compared with the dangerous drag strips in other parts of the city. There really is not much you can do to change that. Adapt.
Adapt? People are just looking for some safety. There are so many families with small children in LIC. There needs to be stop signs put in all along 5th Street. Especially at 5th street and 50th Ave. Same with the corner of Center Boulevard and 50th Ave. Cars zoom through there all day and year long. The foot traffic there gets pretty crazy during the warmer months. Something needs to get done before something unforgettable happens. Till then I guess we will work on adapting or maybe we will all just move back to our cul de sacs.
Yup, called about these intersections for years… going back to 2011 or so. All the DOT ever did (thus far) is measure traffic amount and flow patterns with the contraptions they tape to the road and count how many and how often a car/truck etc drives over them. I asked for stop lights, after the numerous car accidents, fender benders and night street racing on Center Blvd and 5th Steet.
Its just a question of time when someone, especially a child – get hurt.
I hate it and I dont even have any kids and happen to be a automotive enthusiast, own a sport car, park and drive in our neighborhood.
How many meeting, studies and articles are necessary? I could fix the problem myself. It is not rocket science. Speed bumps. Stop signs. Cops who enforce laws and don’t just sit in their cars texting.
Maybe you missed the photo but there are already stop signs there. Maybe you should “fix it yourself” instead of just sitting in your car typing comments on the internet.