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DOT Vows to Review Safety Fixes Made Along Queens Boulevard

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 14, 2014 12:17pm | Updated on November 17, 2014 8:43am
 The DOT has installed several safety improvements at the intersection of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards.
Yellowstone Boulevard Safety Improvements
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QUEENS — The city will review the traffic-safety fixes made to a notorious Queens Boulevard intersection after criticism from Forest Hills residents who complain the changes are confusing.

Last week, the Department of Transportation implemented new safety measures at the busy intersection of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards, the site of frequent accidents involving cars and pedestrians.

One of the changes specifically — a ban on northbound traffic making left turns onto Queens Boulevard from Yellowstone Boulevard — has confused drivers and caused chaos, residents said.

Following complaints, DOT representatives agreed to attend Wednesday's Community Board 6 meeting to discuss the issue with residents.

"If there are more adjustments that we could make, we want to hear your input so that we can consider it," Queens DOT Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said.

Residents and board members complained that motorists, who are now forced to continue driving along Yellowstone Boulevard instead of turning, look for the easiest alternative route leading to Queens Boulevard.

As a result, most drivers turn into 69th Road, transforming it into a congested roadway full of honking cars, residents said.

Locals said it's also dangerous to cross.

“I almost got hit trying to cross my little corner there because it’s so difficult for cars to make that left turn on 69th Road," said Carolyn Harrs who lives on the corner of 69th Road and Yellowstone Boulevard.

Residents asked why the DOT didn't consider installing left-turn lanes at Queens and Yellowstone boulevards, instead of banning cars from turning.

They also suggested the agency install more signs along Yellowstone Boulevard to inform drivers about ways to get to Queens Boulevard without taking 69th Road.

Installing traffic lights at the intersection of 69th Road and Queens Boulevard could also improve the situation, some locals said.

The safety changes were implemented because of numerous accidents, Hall said.

Banning left turns, she said, seemed to be a logical solution.

Half of the vehicle-pedestrian crashes at the intersection were "a result of left turns," Hall said. And 20 percent of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes, she added, were "also due to left turns."

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, DOT officials said.

Hall also said that after a similar solution was implemented at the intersection of 51st Avenue and Queens Boulevard in 2004, the agency  saw a "67 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes and 58 percent [reduction] in motor vehicle crashes."

Other safety measures implemented at the intersection of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards included widening medians in three spots along Queens Boulevard, reconstructing a pedestrian safety island on Yellowstone Boulevard, installing plastic posts in the center of Yellowstone Boulevard to prevent illegal U-turns and adding parking lane stripes on service roads, according to the DOT.