Study Recommends Traffic Upgrades for LIC Street Where Teen Was Killed

By Jeanmarie Evelly on April 29, 2014 2:34pm 

 The intersection at Thomson and Skillman Avenues is a frequent crossing point for students from LaGuardia Community College and several other nearby schools.
The intersection at Thomson and Skillman Avenues is a frequent crossing point for students from LaGuardia Community College and several other nearby schools.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — A traffic study by LaGuardia Community College outlines several safety improvements for a busy nearby street where a 16-year-old was fatally struck by a van last year — including widening sidewalks and eliminating a lane of traffic.

The recent report studied Thomson Avenue between Skillman Avenue and Van Dam Street, a busy stretch of road that's adjacent to the college as well as several high schools and is heavily trafficked by both cars and pedestrians.

Applied Communications High School student Tenzin Drudak was killed and several others injured in 2013 when a car mounted the sidewalk near 30th Street and Thomson Avenue — prompting LaGuardia to launch the traffic study "to prevent another fatal traffic accident near its campus," according to a statement from the school.

The study, by traffic engineering firm Philip Habib & Associates, recommends widening the sidewalks on Thomson Avenue by eliminating an eastbound lane to create a buffer between cars and pedestrians.

The report also suggests adding sidewalk bulb-outs at intersections — which would give pedestrians more space to stand while waiting to cross — as well as adjusting signal timing at certain intersections to allow pedestrians additional crossing time.

"For years, LaGuardia has been concerned about the pedestrian and vehicular safety of its students, faculty and staff," Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College, said in a statement.

"LaGuardia urges the city to rapidly make the necessary improvements for both pedestrian and vehicular safety by making modifications on Thomson Avenue."

The Department of Transportation has already made several changes to the roadways near the school following last year's fatality, including the installation of pedestrian countdown signals at several crossings in the area.

The DOT also redesigned Thomson and Skillman Avenues, closing a short connecting span between Thomson and Skillman, banning eastbound left turns from Thomson onto Skillman and adding planters and concrete blocks to create a small pedestrian plaza at the intersection. Other changes were made to protect pedestrians crossing 30th Street.

In an email, a spokesman said the DOT has reviewed the new traffic study and is holding discussions with LaGuardia Community College and other local stakeholders, and will work closely with the community to develop the next steps.

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