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Queens Boulevard Safety Changes Wreaking Havoc on Drivers, Critics Say

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 16, 2014 11:09am
 The DOT has installed several safety improvements at the intersection of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards.
Yellowstone Boulevard Safety Improvements
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QUEENS — New safety measures at a dangerous Forest Hills intersection have caused confusion among motorists and pushed traffic into residential areas, locals said.

The busy intersection of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards has been the scene of numerous accidents involving cars and pedestrians, according to the Department of Transportation, which is implementing the changes.

From 2007 to 2011, 85 people were injured at the intersection, including 15 pedestrians and four bicyclists, according to statistics provided by the DOT. In 2012, a pedestrian was killed there, the DOT said.

On Wednesday, residents at a community board meeting complained that one change made last week — a ban on northbound traffic making left turns onto Queens Boulevard from Yellowstone Boulevard — had confused drivers and caused chaos in the area.

Community Board 6 Chairman Joe Hennessy said that the board, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park, had questioned the DOT about the traffic “being pushed into the side streets" as a result.

Drivers who seek to turn onto Queens Boulevard must continue to drive on Yellowstone Boulevard through residential areas and look for alternative routes leading back to Queens Boulevard, according to the plan posted on the DOT's website.

There are no signs indicating which way to go.

“It’s very confusing,” said Stephen Melnick, a longtime Forest Hills resident. “I think they are just pushing the problem a few blocks away.

"They are doing the good thing on Queens Boulevard but at the same time they may be creating another problem along those side streets.”

The DOT, which has conducted a study of the intersection and discussed the issue with CB6 earlier this year, said the measures were meant to “reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and improve intersection operations.”

The city agency said it has posted several "No Left Turns" signs at the intersection to make the changes more visible.

But Frank Gulluscio, the district manager at CB6, said that drivers are confused about the new traffic pattern. “I don’t know what’s going to happen there, even with all the signs,” he said.

Other upcoming safety measures planned for the intersection include widening medians in three places along Queens Boulevard, reconstructing a pedestrian safety island on Yellowstone Boulevard, placing plastic posts in the middle of Yellowstone Boulevard to prevent illegal U-turns and installing parking lane stripes on service roads, the DOT said.

The DOT is expected to make a presentation about the changes to CB6 in October, Hennessy said.