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Dangerous Yellowstone Blvd/Austin Street intersection to receive makeover

Jan. 30, 2017 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.

Yellowstone Blvd Austin St Jan2017 by Queens Post on Scribd

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Myrna Turner

This intersection is even worse now. Twice in the past week I tried to walk the crosswalk leading to the precinct parking lot on Yellowstone. My light said go, but apparently the oncoming traffic on my left does NOT have a traffic light. The oncoming car did not slow down let alone stop. I pointed this out to a police officer standing outside the lot. He did not observe this; he had no helpful suggestions, just said, oh sorry.

This morning I was crossing to the triangular median directly across from the precinct building and an oncoming car from my right did not stop or slow down. DOT you need to fix this.

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martin marks

All of these improvements are good but they don’t address the major problem confronting drivers. Drivers coming down yellowstone wanting to make a right turn onto Austin when the right turn arrow is on, often can not turn due to traffic ahead waiting to go straight when their light is red. This problem can be easily remedied by not permitting parking in the right lane.

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