Community Board Approves New 'Slow Zone' For Elmhurst

By Paul DeBenedetto on January 9, 2013 9:44am 

ELMHURST — The streets of Elmhurst will become a little safer, officials said on Tuesday, after a new plan to reduce speeds in the neighborhood was approved by the local community board.

Queens Community Board 4 voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a new "slow zone" in Elmhurst, which will lower the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph in what the city says is an effort to make streets safer and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Right now, Elmhurst averages 44.6 traffic injuries per year, and its streets are more dangerous per-mile than 74 percent of other Queens neighborhoods, according to the Department of Transportation.

The new zone, which is part of a program launched in July to add 13 such slow zones across the city, hopes to combat that. Similar zones have been approved nearby in Jackson Heights and in Corona, as well as in neighborhoods like Boerum Hill, Inwood and Mount Eden.

“Our neighborhoods are where New Yorkers live, where they go to school, where they play and where they pray,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at the time the program was announced.

“Our residential streets need to be drawn to this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets people walk along more inviting.”

According to a presentation by DOT officials on Tuesday, the plan, which was submitted by school officials at P.S. 89, is made up of two components.

In February, the city will begin to install 23 new speed bumps throughout the neighborhood.

Then, in June, they'll convert 22 streets into "gateways" — blocks with pronounced signage and "20 mph" painted on the asphalt.

The result, a DOT official said during Tuesday's presentation, would be a "self-policing" system that would rely on compliance from drivers rather than enforcement from cops. The speed bumps will cap drivers' speeds, and gateways are designed with more narrow entry points to deter drivers from making faster turns and to draw attention to the signage.

The .3-square-mile zone falls in the northeast corner of Elmhurst, bordered to the north by Roosevelt Avenue, to the east by Junction Boulevard, to the south by 44th and Corona avenues and to the west by Broadway and Baxter Avenue.

It was not immediately clear how many parking spaces would be lost with the creation of the new zone, though a DOT official acknowledged there would be some small loss of parking.