City to Launch 'Arterial Slow Zones' on Northern and Queens Boulevards
LONG ISLAND CITY — The city will lower the speed limit on Northern Boulevard in the coming months, city officials announced Thursday, one of several roadways in the city to be dubbed "arterial slow zones" as part of the de Blasio administration's Vision Zero Initiative.
The speed limit will be lowered from 30 to 25 mph on a 4.2 mile stretch of Northern Boulevard between 40th Road and 114th Street beginning this month.
A slow zone will also be implemented on 7.4 miles of Queens Boulevard, between Jackson and Hillside Avenues, starting in July. The speed limit on Queens Boulevard is 30 miles per hour, down from 35 mph in previous years, a change that went into effect in 2001, according to DOT documents.
Under the arterial slow zone initiative, the Department of Transpotation will also change the timing of signals to discourage speeding and will increase police enforcement on the selected streets, officials said.
Elected officials and transit advocates have called for safety improvements on both Queens and Northern Boulevards in the past.
Queens Boulevard long ago earned the unfortunate nickname the "Boulevard of Death" because of the frequency of fatalities on the thoroughfare — 23 since 2008, according to the DOT. There have been five fatalities on the designated section of Northern Boulevard during that time, officials said.
"I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents," DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement.
The DOT is planning a similar effort for a longer stretch of Northern Boulevard next year, Trottenberg said.
The announcement comes on top of another safety improvement project at the corner of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside, where third grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by an unlicensed driver in December while on his way to school at nearby P.S. 152.
The DOT is adding two pedestrian islands to that intersection, in addition to changing signal timing to maximize crossing time for pedestrians and adding school crosswalks, which have special markings to alert motorists.
"We have looked into the eyes of Noshat Nahian’s mother, and if you have done that once — looked into the eyes of a mother who has lost her child as a result of a traffic collision — you know that we have to do everything we can," City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said at Thursday's announcement.
"Reducing the speed of traffic even by five miles an hour can and will save lives," he said.
The city also announced several other streets to get "arterial slow zone" status on Thursday. That includes Rockaway Boulevard between 75th Street and Farmers Boulevard, set to take effect in August, and Jamaica Avenue between the Van Wyck Expressway and 224th Street, set to take effect this month.
Other streets that will see lower speed limits inlcude parts of Broadway above Columbus Circle, Canal Street, Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, East Gun Hill Road and Southern Boulevard in The Bronx, and Forest Avenue on Staten Island.
Editor's note: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that the speed limit on Queens Boulevard would be lowered from 30 to 25 mph. The speed limit on Queens Boulevard is 30 mph and was lowered several years ago.