Friday, June 11, 2010

DOT Discusses Ways to Improve Busy Intersection by Patricia Adams - Forum News

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The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) made a presentation to Community Board 10 last week regarding the intersection at Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard.

The project which is nearing the implementation phase is designed to address intersection safety and traffic improvements.

The original study for the problem area was launched after a child pedestrian fatality occurred at Crossbay Boulevard and Liberty Avenue. The intersection was also identified by NYPD as a challenging location. A request for review by the Queens DOT Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy prompted the study which falls within the Woodhaven Boulevard Congested Corridors study area.

Representatives pointed out that the area has many existing conditions contributing to congestion and safety threats. Seven bus lines, the Rockaway Blvd. subway station and an elevated train which runs over Liberty Avenue all converge on the intersection.

Other major problems include a peak traffic volume of more than 2,000 vehicles an hour, complex physical geometry and very large pedestrian volume-- a large percentage of them children.

According to a scale of severity-weighted scale ranking Queens’ intersections, Rockaway & Woodhaven Boulevard ranks in the 99th percentile with nearby Rockaway Blvd. and 94th street close behind in the 89th percentile.

A total of 207 injuries were documented from 2004-2008 with two pedestrian fatalities included.

Following the conclusion of the study the DOT has made several recommendations to
address concerns. At Crossbay and Woodhaven Boulevards, two streets will be converted to plaza space, expansion in the north bound left turn lanes and added capacity at
Rockaway Boulevard.

At Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue proposed solutions include constructing a pedestrian refuge island,while expanding an existing one and installing a traffic signal at 96th street and a more direct crosswalk.

Among the overall benefits, according to the DOT, is the reduction of conflict between pedestrians, vehicle and bus traffic. All intersections will be more crosser-friendly at a rate of 3.5 feet/sec and more easily navigable for both drivers and pedestrians. The plan also offers reduced crossing distances, more public space and simpler, safer left turns.

Later in the week DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy and other representatives from DOT made an additional presentation for community members and media to kick off a study to look at congestion along Liberty Avenue from Woodhaven Boulevard to the Van Wyck Expressway.