April 21, 2022 By Allie Griffin
Two Queens lawmakers are calling on the city to make traffic safety upgrades at a busy intersection located on the border of Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.
Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi and Council Member Lynn Schulman — along with the leaders of Queens community boards 6 and 9 — penned a letter Tuesday to the Department of Transportation requesting enhanced traffic controls at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Park Lane.
They asked DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez to increase the allotted walk time provided by the traffic signal for pedestrians to cross. Pedestrians must cross three sections of traffic within a time period that the elected leaders deem too short.
The lawmakers and board members said the intersection is heavily trafficked, with a significant number of turning vehicles. They said many seniors and children who live in the area have difficulty crossing the intersection in time.
“This exclusively residential area is home to a large number of seniors, young families, young children/infants, school-aged children, and people from all walks of life who deserve to traverse our neighborhoods safely,” they wrote.
“With controls as currently set, there is simply not enough time for people to cross the three sections of road needed to carry about their daily lives, particularly with rushed drivers often racing to beat traffic lights and blocking intersections.”
They also asked the DOT to conduct a full traffic safety study of Union Turnpike from Queens Boulevard to Woodhaven Boulevard to address similar concerns at other intersections.
The local officials penned the letter after the DOT initially denied the request from Queens Community Board 9. The department said that increasing the crossing time for pedestrians at the intersection was unfeasible, according to the letter. It isn’t clear why the change couldn’t be made.
However, Hevesi, Schulman and Queens Community Board 6 decided to get behind the request — determined to get action from the DOT.
Community Board 9 also held a rally at the intersection last Thursday to push the DOT to make improvements.
The Union Turnpike/Park Lane intersection needs upgraded traffic controls. @QueensCB6, Community Board 9, @Lynn4NYC and I are requesting that @NYC_DOT implement better timing of lights/crosswalks as well as longer-term solutions to keep walkers, bikers, and drivers protected. pic.twitter.com/7chnKtB2O8
— Assemblyman Hevesi (@AndrewHevesi) April 19, 2022