May 13, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The final stretch of the Queens Boulevard redesign will be completed before the end of the year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will finish the fourth and final phase of the redesign in November — about three years behind schedule. Construction, de Blasio said, is expected to begin in July.
The project, which aims to make the boulevard safer for cyclists and pedestrians, has faced continuous delays. It initially faced resistance from Community Board 6 and Council Member Karen Koslowitz and then there were construction delays due to COVID-19.
The plan calls for a revamp of Queens Boulevard from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike. It involves the installation of protected bicycle lanes, shortened pedestrian crossings and other traffic safety features. The plan does involve the loss of about 200 parking spots.
The overhaul is the final phase of the 7.5-mile redesign of Queens Boulevard, from Sunnyside to Kew Gardens, that began in 2015.
The thoroughfare has been called the “Boulevard of Death” for decades for the notoriously high number of cyclist and pedestrian deaths along it.
Pedestrian injuries decreased by 55 percent and total crashes dipped by 19 percent after the first three phases of the redesign were completed, according to DOT data.
Construction of Phase 4 was supposed to begin in the summer 2018 — but the work was pushed back to summer 2020 and now again to summer 2021.
The final phase has been repeatedly delayed due to opposition from the local community board and Council Member Karen Koslowitz, who said the loss of parking spots would hurt small businesses along the boulevard.
Community Board 6 voted against the plan in 2018, also citing the loss of parking spaces.
Koslowitz put forward an alternative plan in February 2020, which de Blasio agreed to review. Her plan, she said, would save the parking spots. Transit advocates, however, said her plan was not as safe as the DOT’s redesign.
De Blasio said today that the DOT is sticking to its original plan, not Koslowitz’s.
“The council member I think honestly felt that what she was proposing was a better approach for the community and we truly carefully listened to her, thought about, looked at but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t workable and that the original plan was fair,” he said. “I think there were some adjustments made, but it’s based essentially on the original plan.”
De Blasio said that construction was expected to take place last year but COVID-19 struck.
“The last stage, the fourth stage of the Queens Boulevard redesign was getting ready to go and then COVID hit,” de Blasio said. “There was an issue with federal approval, [but] we believe now there’s a much better environment in Washington.”
The plan needs to be reviewed by the State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration before the DOT can move forward with construction.
De Blasio said that with a different administration in the White House and COVID-19 on the decline, he expects construction to begin in July.
“We need these last approvals… but we are ready to go, and look forward to starting in July and being done in November,” de Blasio said.
Bike and pedestrian safety advocates applauded the announcement, but said it was long overdue.
“We are very pleased that Mayor de Blasio has announced that the next phase of Queens Boulevard will be completed by the end of 2021 — but it should never have taken this long in the first place to transform the Boulevard of Death,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
“New York City is on track to have the second-deadliest year on our streets since Vision Zero began, and Mayor de Blasio and our next mayor must bring the same life-saving street designs for Queens Boulevard to corridors across the five boroughs without delay. This includes extending the project on Queens Boulevard all the way to Hillside Avenue as was initially proposed.”
It’s about time. Those parking spots are lousy 7am alt side spots. No one uses them. This took way too long and I hope no one got hurt in the interim.
Big waste; as pointed out in the article, this has been the second deadliest year yet there have already been many safety improvements over the years (bike lanes, ridiculously low speed limits) but at the end of the day people are going to still make careless and wreck less choices (and yes that included bicyclists and pedestrians too) and they’re going to get killed; you can’t keep revamping roads thinking that’s the problem, you can’t fix stupid!
You have got to kidding. Only 200 parking spots will be lost. How many have already been lost causing store closing and anxiety to parkers. How about putting up some garages since the streets are already ruined. Have you really studied the hidden cameras on Queen’s Blvd. Please count on how many bike riders really use those lanes. It’s a nuisance even if the rider is trying to get to the lane. There is one lane built on Jewel Avenue that had to have a piece of sidewalk added. When exiting the highway, the driver has to know there is a hidden sidewalk where once there was none. Oh that’s good for garage mechanics of which we have lost due to construction and covid. Then there are the double parkers. You can’t blame them. The small grocery and other small business lose customers unless they double park. So you say “I guess I can run into a 7/11 for just one thing. Too bad, the delivery trucks, other drivers and the police are already parked illegally and make it impossible to drive down a street if you are stuck in a crowd of cars ahead of you. And lastly, No trucks or SUV should be allowed to park or especially double park on the corners of street blocks. It is impossible to see in front of them so you never know if a baby carriage or elderly person is walking. There are too many in Rego Park and Forest Hills alone to mention. Why can’t the stop signs be bigger so you can be warned of a dangerous situation before coming upon it. Luckily I have a garage spot in my building. I know of people timing just when to come home in order to possibly find a parking spot. This city is a mess and if you put in trolley cars in it would be better. All I know is the Queens Blvd. is still known as the Blvd. of Death for good reasons. I could go on but this should begin new thought processes right now.