January 30, By Hannah Wulkan
One of the most dangerous intersections in Forest Hills will receive a full update to increase safety, according to the Department of Transportation.
The DOT presented preliminary plans to upgrade the safety precautions at the intersection of Yellowstone Boulevard and Austin Street at a recent Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting, following requests from both the Community Board and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
The intersection has JHS 190 on one side and the 112th Precinct on the opposite side, creating extra pedestrian and car traffic on an already dangerous intersection.
The upgrade aims to address the dangerous conditions of the intersection, which saw 16 accidents between 2010 and 2014. During the five-year time span, there were seven car accidents, one bike accident, and eight pedestrian accidents.
One of the pedestrian accidents resulted in a severe injury to a person who was hit while crossing the street as a car tried to make the turn from Yellowstone Boulevard on to Austin Street.
The DOT pointed out specific safety issues in its presentation. Some issues pointed out were that crossing distances are very long, the pedestrian island between crosswalks is too small, and parked cars in the crosswalks limit pedestrian visibility when trying to cross the street.
In an effort to address these issues, the upgrade would increase the size of the pedestrian island to provide adequate space for people crossing the street to stand between crossing signals, as well as making it ADA accessible. It would also add a concrete curb extension in front of the school to increase pedestrian visibility.
The presentation also pointed out that under the current conditions, drivers travelling eastbound on Yellowstone often ignore the stop bar, and enter the intersection against the signal.
The upgrades to the intersection would include the addition of a new crosswalk and traffic light in front of the stop bar to encourage drivers to stop in the right place. The concrete curb extension would also help control the way vehicles make the turn from Yellowstone Boulevard on to Austin Street.
The DOT will take community input, and then return to the Community Board with an update on the project before starting work, according to a DOT spokesperson.