Oct. 4, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Street safety improvements will soon be underway in a small area near LaGuardia Community College.
The changes, part of the Department of Transportation’s long-awaited safety plan for the length of Thomson Avenue and presented in May, include additional crosswalks, an expanded pedestrian network, and new signals to improve safety and clarify traffic movement on the tangle of roadways on Queens Boulevard from Van Dam Street to 33rd Street.
Seven new crosswalks will be installed, with the bulk of them in the northern and southern sides of the Queens Boulevard-Van Dam Street area.
The crosswalks all work to connect pedestrians, the bulk of them students, to mid-block islands between the LaGuardia Community College block and the 33rd St station. New pedestrian signals will also be installed as part of the project.
To expand pedestrian space, 14 long-term parking spaces under the 7 train viaduct between 32nd Place and 33rd Street will be removed—a new component of the plan.
The spaces, on the south side of the lot, will allow for a conflict-free path for the thousands of pedestrians that walk underneath the section of the viaduct, the DOT said, with nearly 5,000 pedestrians observed using the space during a study conducted over the summer.
“We anticipate much higher usage during the school year,” wrote Nicole Garcia, Queens Borough Commissioner, in a letter to Community Board 2 explaining the project.
The north side of the lot will remain available for parking.
The work being done this month represents one component of the agency’s plan aimed at making the area safer for the thousands of people that use those streets daily. It follows an initial plan released in 2016 after the death of a 16-year-old on the avenue.
The plan is broken up into short-term and long-term fixes, with the former to be implemented first in several areas of the avenue. The long-term component, at a cost of $17 million, includes updating traffic patterns, changing sidewalk materials and furniture, and making all curb ramps along the avenue ADA compliant.
The long-term design, however, is still being worked on, with construction possibly beginning in 2022 at the earliest.